Huguley Water Authority speaks about the natural resource at Lions Club

Published 9:00 am Thursday, April 18, 2024

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VALLEY — Guest speaker Scott Windsor gave members of the Valley Lions Club an update on the Huguley Water Authority at its Monday evening meeting at San Marcos Restaurant. He’s had 35 years in the water business, 12 in Lanett and 23 in Huguley.

Windsor is a native of the Abanda community in northwest Chambers County and still maintains a family farm there during the growing season. He’s been married for close to 40 years and is a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served as a combat engineer. He’s a graduate of Chambers County High, not the new one in Valley but the old one in Milltown.

As the general manager of the Huguley system, Windsor oversees a system that’s much bigger and more important to Chambers County than many people realize.

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Huguley has over 120 miles of underground water transmission lines and seven above ground water storage tanks. The oldest tank dates to 1965 and is located near the intersection of Phillips Road and Highway 50. Two more are located near the junction of Providence Road and Highway 50, approximately halfway from the Valley to LaFayette. Two more of the tanks are located in the Huguley Industrial Park, just off I-85 at Exit 77, and two more are off Exit 70 in the Chambers County Industrial Park at Cusseta.

The newest one is in the Chambers County park. It cost $2 million to build and put in service. That’s quite a contrast to a tank built 14 years ago in 2010. It was around $850,000.

“Had we known then that inflation was going to be the problem it is, we could have built two of them back then at less cost than we are having to pay now,” Windsor said.

Fortunately, grants are available to help pay for these needed improvements.

With a new tank in service, the old one in Cusseta is in for some refurbishing. It will be extensively renovated and painted both on the outside and the inside. The 1965 tank has been well maintained through the years and serves the community well.

“If you properly maintain a water tank it seems like it can last forever,” Windsor said.

It’s different with the underground lines. They have to be replaced over time. The system’s original lines that went into the ground in the mid 1960s are the cast iron types and are a little over two inches in diameter. They have been replaced in some places with PVC pipes that are six inches in diameter. One such line goes to Mr. Ice and another one to the Lanett airport.

A current HWA project is the construction of a new fire station to serve the Cusseta area.

The best lines are the iron ductile types. Some of these went in the ground during the recent widening of Phillips Road near Huguley Elementary School. These lines cost more but are longer lasting. Windsor said it’s not good to have to dig up the road at a busy intersection to repair a water line, especially when one has burst and is spewing up like a geyser.

“Ductile iron is the best way to go in critical locations,” he said.

Adhering to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations can be a time-consuming matter for any water system. Huguley is now gathering data for an EPA lead and copper line survey that’s due in mid October. Any water system must stay up to date on any changes in water quality regulations both at the state and national level.

In addition to directing the day-to-day operations in Huguley, Windsor is also a board member with the Chattahoochee Valley Water Supply District, which has some major projects under way. There’s a $12 million project currently taking place at the CVWSD’s filter plant just north of Kroger in Lanett.

This is where the drinking water for Lanett, East Alabama and Huguley is produced and pumped out to these three systems.

The plant has an interconnection for all three systems. If one of them is having a problem, the CVWSD can see that their needs are met. The current project includes the building of two new 300,000 gallon water storage clear wells.

There’s also a connection to LaFayette. There have been times when that system was having problems in providing water when they got assistance from the CVWSD.

The current project at the Lanett plant involved the removal of a three million gallon sedimentation pool.

This freed up some extra space that can be used for other system improvements. The original building was constructed in 1920. It has been renovated and new space added. Overall, the water plant has seen much improvement. It’s capable of producing more quantity and better quality.

The industrial parks off Exits 70 and 77 are in need of greater water pressure than most areas on water systems. This presents a problem in Cusseta, which is more than 100 feet higher than the Huguley Industrial Park.

Windsor explains that booster pump stations are needed to get the water to the new water tank, which is around 950 feet above sea level. Huguley is around 840 feet msl.

Windsor told the club that he’s enjoyed working in a public service area over the years. He’s in his early sixties and approaching retirement but is glad to have had an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.

When someone turns on the water at their home or business they take it for granted it will always be there. It’s people in the water service business that makes sure it happens.