House Bill 912, proposed by Baldwin County Rep. Steve McMillan, which would provide for a board or authority to regulate sewer systems in the unincorporated areas of Baldwin County, was slashed from 13 pages to a scant four pages, after several …
House Bill 912, proposed by Baldwin County Rep. Steve McMillan, which would provide for a board or authority to regulate sewer systems in the unincorporated areas of Baldwin County, was slashed from 13 pages to a scant four pages, after several representatives from the municipalities questioned the wording of the bill.
McMillan invited representatives of the county, the municipalities and area private sewer companies to the meeting which was held at the Baldwin County Annex last Friday afternoon, to refine the proposed bill, which applies only to Baldwin County.
Scott Barnett, attorney for the county; Mike Thompson, the county administrator; McMillan, Fairhope Mayor Tim Kant, Dan McCrory, utilities supervisor for Fairhope; Charles Murphy mayor of Robertsdale; Billy Middleton, mayor of Loxley; Mike Dugger, CEO of Riviera Utilities; Magnolia Springs Mayor Charles Houser; and David Conner, an attorney who represents Baldwin County Sewer Service, LLC., reviewed the proposed legislation.
Kant questioned several items in the proposed legislation, which would have exempted certain on-site systems for the treatment and disposal of waste water.
“Anything that is collecting waste water in the county should be under this authority,” Kant said. He said the need for a regulation of waste water, collection systems, treatment systems and piping is important because of the rapid growth the county is experiencing.
“We’re going to wake up one day and be like south Florida, where everybody is leaving because they can’t get any water,” he said, noting that the since the county’s drinking water comes from the ground, he is worried about systems that do not empty into bodies of water but into the ground.
Dugger, after looking at the proposed legislation, said, “I was worried when I came in here. I’m scared now.” He expressed concern about exemptions for “decentralized” sewer systems in the document.
Robertsdale Mayor Charles Murphy said, “With our growing population, we need some sort of sewer regulation in the county and Kant agreed, saying, “We need to set standards.
The group agreed to legislation that would form a technical advisory committee to set standards and define terms.
After the meeting, Dugger said the legislation is important and complex and he praised the efforts of everybody who has been involved in fashioning the legislation.
“The private sewer companies have been growing and there is need for some kind of regulation,” he said, but noted he was concerned about the question of the regulatory board setting rates and the interpretation of de-centralized sewer systems.
He said the formation of a technical advisory committee is a good first step in the process of fair regulation. He said county citizens have long been vocal on the need for regulation of sewers, but also said such a complex subject should be handled carefully.
“Everybody is working together to move forward on this issue. Setting up a technical advisory committee is a good first step,” he said.
Conner echoed Dugger, saying that the pared-down version of the originally proposed bill clearly defines waste water terms and creates the Baldwin County Wastewater Utility Technical Advisory Committee.
“It’s the first step in a two-step process,” Conner said.
McMillan presented the revised bill to the Alabama Legislature on Tuesday, but at press time, no action had been taken.