CHEROKEE — About a dozen residents attended a public hearing Monday night to learn more about the town's sewer project but came away without knowing when they can expect the project to begin or when water rates will increase.
Two representatives with the engineering firm of White, Lynn and Collins met with the group along with two NACOLG officials.
The town's sewer system has been problematic, especially during heavy rains, for several years.
The system has had no significant upgrades since 1974, and leaks and broken sewer lines have been a constant problem.
"Line breaks are a problem as well as pumps that can't get the water out," said engineering consultant Larry Lynn, who led the meeting. "If contamination gets into the river then you're subject to fines."
The town was fined $10,800 four years ago for non-compliance with mandates from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
Cherokee has obtained funding for the project through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The town's part of the $2.2 million project is $1.7 million.
The town is still awaiting word on whether it will receive a loan from a lending institution.
The project will take nine months to complete, Lynn said. Once the loan portion of the project is approved, the design will get under way and bids will be taken. Construction can start about 60 days after that.
There will be an interest rate of about 4 percent.
Consumer rates will increase to a $34 minimum for 4,000 gallons. That increase could happen over a three-year period, and increase incrementally during that time. Current rates are about $8 for 2,000 gallons of use.
The project includes replacing mains, building new pump stations and replacing pipes with cast iron, which is more heavy-duty.
Lynn said the hope is to reduce infiltration by 70 percent.
"Pipes will have to be flushed before we put the slip lines through," he said. Cast iron is the best option we have."
There will be video filming of the lines to help engineers spot the breaks in the lines. Because the cameras will go inside the lines, the lines will have to first be flushed.
Lisa Singleton-Rickman can be reached at 256-740-5735 or firstname.lastname@example.org.