Fayetteville Public Utilities’ facilities and operations held up well during the recent heavy flooding in Lincoln County, officials said.
Prior to the rainfall, FPU began monitoring the situation, checking the forecast and projections of rainfall totals.
“We wanted to be prepared in case flooding got really bad,” said FPU CEO and General Manager Britt Dye. “We have plans in place for these types of emergency situations, and we began executing them as early as Tuesday before flooding was an issue.”
There were a couple of main concerns for the utilities as they prepared for the water levels to drastically rise. Water levels could rise above the gates into the pumps in the intake building at the water treatment plant on Eldad Road. FPU kept the water treatment plant, as well as the wastewater treatment plant, manned around the clock during the flooding in order to treat the water and wastewater and monitor the situation at each plant.
Due to this event, the water treatment plant treated more than 3.4 million gallons of water over a period of two days.
“We also ensured that we had over four million gallons of water stored for the communities’ usage. Our highest usage is around two million gallons per day, so we were well prepared for the situation,” said Dye. “The new water treatment facilities and the new water membrane filtration system made a big difference in how we were able to treat the incoming water.”
Another concern for FPU was the flooding of roadways, particularly the potential closing of the Elk River Bridge on Huntsville Highway. FPU moved vehicles and equipment to the south side of the river in preparation for potential flooding of the bridge and other roadways.
For four days leading up to the largest portion of the flooding, FPU’s wastewater treatment plant had an inflow of seven million gallons per day. On Sunday, they had an inflow of eight million gallons.
“We were really pleased with the toxicity test that we received,” said Dye. “The water we treated to be released was at an even higher grade than what is required by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.”
As waters receded, FPU crews checked creek crossings and cleaned up debris that washed out from the river. Crews also checked for damage to meters and other equipment that may have occurred during the flood.
“All of our facilities and operations performed incredibly well under these circumstances,” said Dye. “We were in direct communication with TVA throughout the week, obtaining information about the flow being released from the dam. Luckily, TVA was able to back off from their original projections. Things could have been much worse.”