The project will replace two-inch steel water lines in a section of Empire along Empire Road near Phillips Chapel Road with six-inch PVC lines to increase water flow and improve water pressure. Because of the undersized pipes, as many as 250 residents have been without water service for extended periods.
The commission recently received a $350,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Alabama Department of Community Affairs to help pay for the replacement of the pipes. The Jasper Water Board serves the Empire community, but the grant had to go through the commission.
Commissioners voted Monday to approve Nelson Engineering Associates for project engineering and Community Consultants for administrative services on the project.
Peggy Matthews, the grant writer and manager of the project, said the project would likely start construction in April or May.
“We will start the engineering and design process now. Then, everything will have to be bid out, so it is going to take some time,” she said.
Matthews said the project will be completed as soon as possible.
“I’ve talked to residents in that area,” she said. “I know what kind of issues they have been having with water. Some of them have told me that they try to keep their tub filled with water so if their water stops they will have water to wash their dishes or flush their toilet.”
Matthews said she was told water service had been interrupted for as long as 13 days.
Adequate fire protection to the area has also been difficult or impossible because of chronically low water pressure.
“This work is going to take care of these problems,” Matthews said.
In other action from the meeting, the commission:
•Approved a grant from the Alabama Department of Public Health for critical response in Walker County.
•Approved an agreement to allow the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office to act as an agent to pay for postage on required voter notices.
The commission will be obligated to reimburse the state office for the work.