Editorial: Something stinks in downtown Albany

Something stinks in downtown Albany

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Something stinks in downtown Albany and it's not just the Flint River!

Twice in the last two months, city equipment malfunctions have caused thousands of gallons of sewage and wastewater to spill into the Flint River.

In addition to pump failures, the alarm system did not function, which is why they were so slow to respond to the equipment failure.

The result is not only a terrible odor in the downtown area, on the brink of revitalization, but the loss of new business in the heart of downtown.

City leaders have pointed the finger at Jacobs, a company Albany taxpayers pay more than $1 million each year to maintain this equipment.

"Those pumps were installed originally, I think, in 1996. Useful life is a very broad industry term but I'd say they're  past their useful life," said Andy Appleton, Senior Vice President of Operations for Jacobs . "We do on-going preventative maintenance. Our staff pulled the maintenance records for that pump station and the neighboring pump station and its 25,000 documents of documented maintenance both correcting things and preventing things. They have been rebuilt before so that extends their useful life. But I would say from a capital standpoint each one of those pumps is $100,000 to $125,000. So the maintenance that goes into those is extensive, but at some point they need to be replaced eventually."

Blame also lies with the city, which neglected to inspect Jacobs' work and hold the company accountable for whats happened.

We continue to ask these simple questions: How often are the pumps inspected? When were the pumps last inspected? How often was the alarm cable inspected? When was the alarm cable last inspected? When were commissioners notified the pumps installed in 1996 were well past their useful lifespan?

If this sewage spill is beyond the city's control, why is it difficult to address these simple questions? A million dollars is paid each year to this company, and we should expect excellent service and reporting.

There are more than a million reasons why this is a problem Albany can't afford!

Once repairs are completed, city leaders need to cut ties with Jacobs, answer for these inspection mistakes, and create a detailed plan to ensure our taxpayer dollars don't get "flushed" again!

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