Fairhope working to fix sewer overflow problems


FAIRHOPE – Heavy rains in areas served by three Fairhope lift stations helped contribute to sewage spills of about 30,000 gallons of materials last weekend.

Fairhope officials said the city working to fix problems that will reduce sanitary sewer overflows, or SSOs, in the system. The city has secured RESTORE funding of $10 million for a sewer infrastructure upgrades; engineering on this project has been completed and construction should begin in early 2022.

The southern portions of our system received more than 6 inches of rain in less than 12 hours. The rains caused stormwater runoff flooding areas where three of Fairhope’s 79 lift stations are located. These three lift stations are all in low-gravity areas, making it impossible for staff to mitigate damage during a flooding event, the city statement said.

Sanitary Sewer Overflow notices were issued for the three flooded lift stations as federal Environmental Protection Agency and state environmental regulations require. The city statement said the 30,000 gallons of spilled liquid was not raw sewage, but rainwater mixed with sewage that had drained into the system during the storm and then flowed out to ditches.

The three manholes that flooded on Saturday and Sunday will be moved to higher elevation areas as part of the project. In addition, the RESTORE project will touch approximately 2,688 manholes, 153 miles gravity sewer lines and 27 miles of force-main lines for a total of more than 50 percent of the city system.

An in-progress force-main extension on Fairhope Avenue will also alleviate more than half of the flow for the system’s largest lift station.

“In the past few years, the City Council has approved more than $5 million of capital improvement money for wastewater infrastructure upgrades, including the force-main extension,” said Fairhope Mayor Sherry Sullivan. “Fairhope is dedicated to improving our infrastructure to make this city the healthiest, safest community it can be. We value our customers and will continue to work hard to make improvements on their behalf.

”At no time has Fairhope’s drinking water been impacted by any SSOs in the city. “The water is safe to drink and will continue to be,” Sullivan continued. “When you don’t hear from us, that’s a good thing; if there is any change in the quality of water we provide we will let the public know immediately.”

The event took place after three spills the week before.

On April 10, about 50,000 gallons of sewage spilled at the lift station on East McGowin Drive and flowed into the drainage ditch that leads to Waterhole Branch.

A spill at the Grand Hotel lift station caused about 25,000 gallons of sewage to enter the storm drain that leads to Mobile Bay.

A spill was also reported at the Valley Street lift station on the same date. About 10,000 gallons of sewage flowed into the ditch leading to Big Head Gully.

Anyone with questions about Fairhope Public Utilities can call 251-928-8003