Water main breaks prompt council action

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham City Council is looking at a few options to curb frequent water main breaks in the city’s Chandalar subdivision, and likely will vote on the matter during its Dec. 5 meeting.

The announcement came during a Nov. 21 council meeting, during which Chris Cousins, with the Municipal Consultants engineering company, told council members the city has had a high concentration of water main breaks in the southern part of the Chandalar subdivision over the past several years.

Since 2004, 75 percent of the city’s water line breaks have occurred in and around the southern part of the subdivision, Cousins told the council. Currently, most of southern Chandalar’s water lines are made of PVC pipe, and were installed before the city began using iron pipes, Cousins said.

Cousins said it costs the city a little more than $1,400 to fix a water line break, and would likely cost the city $352,653 over the next 30 years if the breakage problem is not addressed.

Cousins said two possible options to fix the breaks would be to replace the 14,000 feet of water lines in the zone surrounding the southern Chandalar subdivision at a cost of about $1.6 million, or to replace only water lines on Chandalar Lane and install pressure regulating pumps on several side streets and cul-de-sacs in the neighborhood at a cost of about $255,000.

“We could get by with spending $255,000, and have everybody happy,” Councilman Steve Powell said.

Cousins said the $255,000 option would be the “most prudent” option.

Pelham resident Edward Brasher, who lives on Chandalar Lane, said a water main break recently caused water damage to his house and yard, and asked the City Council to reimburse him for the damage.

“You’ve known about the problem for 20 years. In my opinion, you are negligent,” Brasher said.

Pelham Mayor Don Murphy said the city’s insurance doesn’t automatically cover damages from water main breaks, and encouraged the council to set aside money to compensate homeowners who are affected by the problem.

In other business, the council herd from Greg Darnell, a member of the Pelham Civic and Ice Complex Advisory Council, who updated the council on the group’s work over the past few months.

Darnell said the advisory council recently received a report from the Mobile-based Cimco Refrigeration company outlining several ways to make the Pelham Civic Complex’s refrigeration systems.

Darnell also said the advisory council had scheduled a Labor Day hockey tournament, but the event was cancelled “at the last minute” when several teams from Nashville, Tenn., pulled out of the tournament. He said the tournament organizer, Big Bear Hockey, is planning to hold the event in Pelham next year.

The advisory committee also recently worked to gather commitments from 14 businesses who are interested in placing advertisements inside the main ice arena, Darnell said. He also suggested the city partner with a rink management company to help the Civic Complex’s profitability.

The city recently reached out to 27 rink management companies, but has heard back from only two. Darnell suggested the city contact four more companies before issuing a formal request for proposals.