Hartselle Receives Grant for Improvements in Snow Hill

Smoke tests, such as this one conducted in the Snow Hill neighborhood, show if there are cracks or gaps within a sewer line, which could allow inflow and infiltration from rainwater and groundwater. Inflow and infiltration puts added stress on the sewer system and the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

In January, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) awarded the City of Hartselle and Hartselle Utilities a Community Development Block Grant for improvements in the Snow Hill area. The grant will cover improvements to sewer, water lines, storm drainage and roadways on Rhodes, Andy, Edgewood, Brookline and Midway streets. Approximately 120 people live in the 68 homes in the neighborhood.

The grant will pay $450,000 towards the estimated costs of the improvements, including materials. Hartselle Utilities and the City are meeting their grant matching share requirements by providing in-house labor and equipment.

The grant application was a joint venture by Hartselle Utilities and the City, with support from residents in the Snow Hill area. This was the second year that Hartselle applied for a grant for this project; it was not awarded in 2016.

“I am very appreciative that we were selected to receive the CDBG this year,” says Hartselle Mayor Randy Garrison. “We were disappointed that we did not receive it last year.”

During heavy rainfall, especially when it rains for several days, Hartselle’s sewer system has issues with inflow and infiltration – when rainwater and groundwater enter the wastewater treatment system through cracks or other openings in sewage pipes. The Snow Hill area has been identified as one of the major contributors of inflow and infiltration into the sewer system. The area was developed in the early 1950s, and the sewer pipe that was used at that time has reached its life span, according to Hartselle Utilities Engineering Services Manager Daxton Maze.

“Our goal, in all cases, is to ensure the integrity of our collection system and the replacement of these sewer mains is forward progress for us in that pursuit,” Maze states.

Aging roadways in the Snow Hill area are no longer draining properly, causing roadways to crack. As part of the improvements included in the grant, Hartselle Public Works will repave the streets in the area.

Normally, Hartselle Utilities would only replace sewer services up to the right-of-way and developers or homeowners would be responsible for infrastructure from the right of way to the residence. Part of the inflow and infiltration problems identified include aging service lines between the right of way and the residences, and under the grant Hartselle Utilities will be able to replace services all the way to individual homes.

The water system in the Snow Hill area is also aging. Residents in the area have reported severe water pressure issues. Hartselle Utilities will replace the older cast iron water mains with C900 PVC water pipe and replace the polybutylene service lines with PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) service lines, which are both today’s standard in water distribution materials. 

The streetscapes and road surfaces in the area are deteriorating as well, resulting in blocked culverts and ditches and overall impaired surface water drainage. The drainage problem on the streets has caused roadways to crack and ravel, with increasing numbers of potholes and depressions. The drainage problem also increases the potential for inflow and infiltration into the sewer lines, because rainwater that cannot drain through the culverts and ditches makes its way into the sewer system.

The Grant will provide funding allowing Hartselle Public Works Department to improve storm drainage culverts and repave the streets in areas affected by the construction.

“Any time we are able to make infrastructure improvements that provide a better quality of life for our residents and in turn increase property values, we are happy to participate in that process,” says Mayor Garrison. “This is a win-win for everyone involved.”