Update on Phillips Road widening

Published 6:26 pm Thursday, October 4, 2018

VALLEY — The much-anticipated widening of Phillips Road near Huguley Elementary School cannot proceed until the Alabama Department of Transportation gives its final approval to plans that have been submitted. There are still some underground utilities that have to moved farther away from the road before construction can begin.

Scott Windsor, general manager for the Huguley Water Authority, talked about this at the Monday meeting of the Valley Lions Club. “When the plans are approved, and we have the assurance that we will be reimbursed for our costs, we will bid it out and award a contract.”

There will then be a 120-day period for a notice to proceed.

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Once the water line work starts, Huguley will be replacing some present six-inch lines with some that at 10 inches in diameter. This should improve water pressure in the  area. The new, larger lines will be going in along both sides of the intersection, both Phillips Road and Cusseta Road. Some natural gas lines have to be moved back as well.

The Huguley Water System was formed in 1965 as an organization similar to a co-op. Members elected a governing board, and a $500,000 loan from the Farmers Home Administration allowed for the construction of 40 miles of water lines and a new water tank to serve approximately 800 customers who had signed on. Over the years that has grown to several thousand customers, 120 miles of water lines and seven water storage tanks.

“We have more infrastructure today and pump water a lot farther than we used to,” Windsor said. “We have to maintain the high-service pumps, too.”

West Point Manufacturing Company and its successors provided water to the local area until 1994, when the Chattahoochee Water Supply District was created to do that as a public water supply entity. The Huguley Water Authority, the City of Lanett and the East Alabama Water, Sewer and Fire Protection District are member entities. The Chambers County Commission appoints representatives to the Water Supply District board.

Except for above-ground storage tanks and hydrants, most everything else with a water system is underground. That means for a lot of digging up when things go wrong. System maintenance, said Windsor, is extremely important. “If we see a tank that’s rusting, we have to fix it,” he said. “A water tank will last for a long, long time if you keep it up. You need to repaint one once every 15 years or so.

“We are regulated by the EPA and ADEM,” he said. “We have seen some big changes in water quality over the years. It used to be they wanted you to have a big tank, one million gallons or so. Now they want you to have smaller tanks. Opelika has taken five big tanks out of service due to this.”

Windsor, who has over 30 years experience in water treatment and distribution, said that all systems have to do a certain amount of flushing to keep their water fresh.

Windsor said that the Water Supply District’s filter plant in Lanett is due for a major overhaul. It dates to the 1920s and has seen a number of improvements over the years but now is in need of a $12 million upgrade. Some filters and a clear well will have to be built. The plant has a withdrawal permit of up to eight million gallons a day. That compares to 90 million gallons a day for Atlanta.

Huguley has had its own fire department since 2004. Prior to that, Lanett provided service. By 2007, Huguley had a chief, four full-time firefighters, 30 volunteers and a new fire station. Two years later, they had a second station at the Chambers County Industrial Park off Exit 70 on I-85.

Under the leadership of Stan Taylor, the HFD works hard to build goodwill in the community. “October is fire prevention month,” Windsor said. “Our firefighters visit classrooms at Huguley Elementary School and talk about fire safety. They provide free smoke detectors, free fire extinguishers and offer CPR training.”