Reed: City is in compliance

Published 10:55 pm Thursday, March 12, 2009

JEMISON — Jemison Mayor Eddie Reed says the city is in compliance with the Clean Water Act after spending more than $2 million on improvements to its wastewater treatment plant.

The city just completed the addition of a new plant, which doubles the capacity by increasing the maximum daily flow another 150,000 gallons. The new plant started operating just this week.

Other additions have included a chemical-free UV system — which disinfects water with ultraviolet light — a sewage sludge grinder, and a digester that stores all solids removed from the water.

“We have already spent appropriate funds to bring the city into compliance,” Reed said.

“We just need to report that it has been done.”

Conservation Alabama Foundation, Inc., recently notified the city of an intent to file suit under the Clean Water Act for discharges of pollutants into Mohorn Creek in violation of the city’s permit issued by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).

The city has 60 days from issuance of the notice, which occurred March 2, to offer proof of compliance.

The group’s attorney, David Ludder of Tallahassee, Fla., indicated that all he had to go by were the discharge monitoring reports submitted by the city to ADEM.

“According to the databases I am looking at, it appears that these violations have occurred, but I can’t confirm that beyond the database,” Ludder said in a phone interview.

Reed said his administration inherited the problem in 2004 and has since worked to increase the plant’s capacity. In 2006, ADEM was going to fine the city as much as $1.3 million, but the fines were later reduced to $6,000, Reed said.

All the funding spent on the upgrades were paid without the help of a grant.

“It’s hard on a small city,” Reed said. “It had to be done.”

The contract let by the city should be completed April 1, the mayor estimated, and at that time the city plans to meet with ADEM officials at the site.

“As long as we’re in the process of correcting it, we’re fine,” Reed said.