Huntsville water treatment plant in need of repairs

Huntsville city council members met Wednesday night to consider a long-term plan to fund repairs to a local water treatment plant.

Constructed in 1971, the N.B. Davidson wastewater treatment plant, located within the Sam Houston National Forest, has accumulated corrosion and rust making the various components of the water plant both dangerous to operate and less effective.

The plant is the oldest of three total wastewater plants located in the Huntsville area. Each plant delegates water to the Elkins Lake subdivision as well as several prison units, and other various businesses and residences in west Huntsville.

Public Works Director Carol Reed presented to councilmembers an eight-year long, four-phase project, which would take the precautions and actions necessary to repair the water treatment plant before it is imminent.

According to Reed, the current state of the plant was not due to a lack of funding or a lack of maintenance, but to “aging technology.”

“It was just time to take a critical look—there wasn’t any one thing that happened other than walking around out there and seeing that we have some issues here,” Reed said. “It’s time to make a proactive move and look ahead to see what we can do to avoid a catastrophic failure and an emergency repair.”

The completion of all four phases would cost roughly $2 million, according to Reed.

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, Reed presented the council with three options for tending to the water treatment plant which including repairs, reconstructing it or abandoning it altogether. Reconstructing the entire plant would cost between $6.5 million and $9 million, while demolishing the plant could cost anywhere between $4 million and $13 million.

Demolishing the plant would also push the remaining two plants to maximum capacity. After considering these consequences, city council decided that fixing the plant would be the most cost-effective route.

“I think this plan is the best bang for our buck, and I like that we are working within the same footprints in that we don’t have to acquire new land and we can operate all plants at a good capacity,” councilmember Lydia Montgomery said.

If the repairs can be made to the N.B. Davidson plant, Reed said she expects it to have at least 20 more years of use.

Reed and her engineering team will present at future city council meetings before any decision is made.

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