Wilsonville settles ADEM sewer suit: Mayor, town lawyer blame water violations on hurricanes, older equipment

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A lawsuit between Wilsonville and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management is now over according to Wilsonville&8217;s attorney, Frank C. &8220;Butch&8221; Ellis Jr.

The suit was filed in July 2006, regarding the amounts of oxygen, phosphorus, nitrogen and nitrate allowed in the sewer lines. The problems occurred during the 2004 hurricane season.

Ellis said the problem arose when much of the old equipment wasn&8217;t able to perform new treatment procedures that would meet tightened water standards.

&8220;ADEM keeps tightening it down on how much oxygen and phosphorus allowed in the water,&8221; Ellis said. &8220;The process and the plant in some cases have to be revised and revamped.&8221;

Wilsonville hired Novus Utilities to do an engineering report within a compliance plan to see how to get their system modernized. The report was filed in October 2006 with ADEM. Ellis said ADEM has just given their final approval for upgrades.

&8220;We were hoping the engineering compliance report would solve this problem and it seems to have,&8221; Ellis said. The total cost of upgrades and modifications will be less than $40,000. The phosphorus removal must be completed by June 11 and Nov. 30 is the deadline for all other limitations of permit. The civil penalty cost is at $716 per month until the problem is fixed.

Mayor Rosemary Liveoak said this is one of the necessary evils that happen with sewage systems. &8220;For 2004, we are sorry,&8221; Liveoak said. &8220;It was something that was out of our control, you don&8217;t control hurricane and flash flood water,&8221; she added. &8220;We are thankful that things are now corrected and are in the process of improving.&8221;