Manila Council discusses sewer system

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Manila City Council met with engineer David Hopkins with Landmark Engineering in a special called meeting Monday, Jan. 4, to discuss the city sewer system.

Henry Ford (left), Manila utilities supervisor, and engineer David Hopkins at a special called Manila City Council meeting. The council met to discuss the sewer system.

Mayor Wayne Wagner thanked Hopkins for meeting with the council to discuss what can be done immediately to replace the emergency areas and branch out from there for a complete new system.

"Our system is 80 years old," Mayor Wagner said. "David told me the first day I took office that our sewer system is living on borrowed time."

Wagner went on to talk about the major break in the system on Concord Street calling it an emergency area. City crews have been having to pump from one manhole to another pumping 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Wagner told the council they may have received complaints from citizens. "We realize there is a problem, but our workers have gone beyond the call of duty to try to keep the sewer system working," Wagner said. "Henry (Henry Ford, utility supervisor) and Joe Chipman and other workers have been out on Christmas Day and New Year's Day working on the sewer problems."

Wagner said the excessive rains caused the sewer problem to escalate.

Problems on Concord Street, the last 500 feet of lines near the cotton warehouse, Alma Street behind the Miller house, Olympia Street behind the Shelton home, and behind the post office to the school are emergency areas.

"Once those areas are fixed we can branch out like a spider to fix the entire sewer system," Wagner said. "One more flood, seep water from Big Lake or a tremor will cause more major problems. We have been talking about it for years but now we are here."

Hopkins and Wagner talked about going forward with the system on Highway 18 West using the highway right-of-way and placing new lines where the existing lines are located.

Mayor Wagner and City Attorney Wes Wagner will be looking into having the problem areas declared an emergency.

"Governor Asa Hutchinson declared flood emergencies last week in several areas but Mississippi County was not on the list," Hopkins said. "But that does not mean we don't have an emergency here."

Hopkins said federal funds are different, they are long term.

"They do not give 100 percent grants," Hopkins said. " Also, Manila's population is over 3,000 which makes it a middle sized city which can be a disadvantage. Your rates will be compared to other towns your size. We want to keep rates as low as possible, but at some point we will have to look at them."

"We need to get the emergency areas taken care of," Wagner said. "It will take from now to fall to correct those areas and then we will be looking at a two to three year plan to complete the project."

"I do not want to alarm citizens," Wagner said. "We have to take care of the emergency areas, and if we can't get grants or low interest loans we will have to look at all options."

The council talked about a variety of payment methods including grants, loans, sewer rate increase, sales tax or other methods.

Hopkins said the pumps are pumping 700 gallons a minute, adding up to a million gallons a day. The wastewater plant only puts out 400 gallons a minute.

"This is something we should have started a long time ago," Councilman Jason Baltimore said.

Mayor Wagner said there has been a lot of work done through the years from Boston Street West.

The Council voted unanimously to give Mayor Wagner, Mr. Ford and Mr. Hopkins the authority to approve the emergency repairs needed on Concord Street.

Following a discussion on the sewer along Highway 18 West the council approved unanimously to allow the contractor to go with the original blueprint placing new sewer lines where the existing lines are.

"Henry and his team worked day and night," Wagner said. "All of our workers have been out. I know there have been calls about the trash pick-up but the water and sewer had to come first."

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