LaFayette water plant superintendent discusses CDBG funds

Published 11:00 am Thursday, January 27, 2022

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At the LaFayette City Council meeting on Monday, Anne Gleaton, superintendent of the city water plant, provided an overview of how the city would use the Community Development Block Grant it had recently received from the state governor’s office for its water system. She said the raw intake system needed to be replaced.

“Right now, we have a 10-inch pipe,” she said. “So, they’re going to come in with a 16-inch pipe, which will give us a bigger diameter, and all of our intake screens will be replaced. Right now, I have to have someone go out in a boat and physically get in the water to clean the screen.”

Gleaton said a new system will allow the water department to clean the screen with the push of a button. Additionally, she said it will allow the bottom intake to be turned on and off via a button.

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Gleaton said a new generator will be put in at the pump house and at the water plant. Additionally, she said the grant money will pay for a new curtain at the plant and some valves.

The city water system needs more money than it’s received so far. Gleaton said grant applications had been sent to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management requesting $1.2 million for the water plant and $2.2 million for the waste plant.

Gleaton brought up the issue of backflow preventers in schools, which she said had to be tested every year. She expressed uncertainty as to whether the city or county test them. She said ADEM was coming Wednesday, and she needed to figure out what to tell them, as they expected the backflow preventers to have been installed and inspected in a timely manner.

“Either way, we have to have that report,” she said. “It has to be on file at the water plant that those backflow preventers are being inspected every year.”

The tricky thing about the backflow preventers is that installing them and having them tested is actually the responsibility of the water distribution department, Gleaton clarified in an interview later. The water distribution department is headed by Superintendent Richard Chapman.

“And also, the backflow preventers were supposed to have already been installed,” she said in the interview. “And when we had our ADEM inspection with the state, they informed us that we needed to get them put on there. We have a cross-connection policy that we go by, and the thing was nobody knew how we handled it in the past. The question we had was is the city going to pay for it or is the customer required to pay for it?”

At the meeting, Allen Tucker of Harmon Engineering estimated that the backflow preventers cost in the $10,000 to $15,000 range

Gleaton said at the meeting that because the city water plant and water distribution are under the same permit, if something is found to be wrong with water distribution, it goes on Gleaton’s report.

“Basically, distribution is not my responsibility,” she said. “But at the same time, it’s on my permit. That’s why I’m coming to you all now because it needs to be done.”

“We’ve dealt with this backflow preventers [issue] early in our administration,” Councilmember Terry Mangram said. “And I don’t think it’s really up to the mayor and council to sit here and tell you all [when] to go out and get something done.”

Mangram said Chapman ought to be at the meeting.

“It’s been about a year since we’ve had this discussion,” Councilmember Michael Ellis said. “Are you guys communicating at all?”

Gleaton said she does communicate with Chapman.

“All I can do is mention something,” she said. “I can’t make it be done.”

Councilmember Williams asked Gleaton if she had reached out to Chapman lately about the issue.

“Not lately, but I have several times since we’ve had the conversation with the council,” Gleaton said. “And he said he was waiting on ya’ll to tell him what ya’ll wanted him to do as far as if the city’s going to pay for it.”

In other business at the meeting, Tucker gave an update on a street improvement project and the application he had submitted for a Rebuild Alabama Grant.

“We were able to submit a grant for the Rebuild Alabama Act,” he said. “Those grants are up to $250,000 maximum. We submitted that application Jan. 14. That was the due date.”

At a previous meeting, Tucker said he and George Green, superintendent of the Street, Sanitation, and Cemetery Department, had come up with a project for the grant money. They decided to mill and resurface Avenue A Southeast from the intersection with First Street at the library to a little past Eastside Elementary. Tucker said this project proposal was included in the grant application. Additionally, he said the application included a proposal to resurface Maple Street and Lovern Drive and a proposal to pave a part of Second Avenue Southwest. Tucker said all of these projects together would cost a total of about $256,000.

In other business, the council voted to establish January 2022 as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in LaFayette. Before they did, LaFayette Mayor Kenneth Vines read a proclamation. It stated that the first step in eliminating human trafficking is to educate others and that the community must work together to see that perpetrators are punished and victims are protected and assisted.