October 25, 2021
The City of Starkville’s capital improvement plan continues on schedule and on budget this year with the completion of a sewer system upgrade in the northern half of the Green Oaks neighborhood. Starkville Utilities crews are now focusing on the southern half of Green Oaks in addition to Rolling Hills for the next phase of infrastructure upgrades.
“Our project team has done an outstanding job of keeping our upgrade schedule safely moving forward while minimizing distruptions to customers,” said Terry Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities. “Through our FutureFOCUS initiative, we’re investing in advanced materials and processes to build a modern, reliable sewer system that will serve Starkville’s long-term utility needs.”
Starkville Utilities has achieved excellent results with the “rehab in place” process that minimizes the need to dig up pipes or suspend service while upgrades are in progress. The technique uses robotic technology to insert a plastic liner inside of existing pipes to create a jointless, seamless, fully integrated and intact sewer system. Excavations are performed only for completely failed sections of the system.
Robotic technology also plays a key role in the inspection phase now underway in Rolling Hills and Green Oaks South. Crews are performing visual inspections by flushing sanitary sewer systems with a high-powered hose and running a robotic camera through lines to determine the scope of repairs and replacements. Upgrade projects in both neighborhoods are set to begin in spring 2022.
Utility workers will inform customers in advance if access to yards is needed. Outages are not expected, but if they occur, they will make every effort to quickly restore service.
As part of its five-year capital improvement plan, Starkville Utilities is investing more than $25 million to replace aging portions of the city’s water and sewer services and update critical components at its wastewater treatment facility.
Project planners have worked to minimize long-term financial impacts to customers by funding improvements through periodic rate adjustments instead of taxes, in addition to procuring federal grant assistance. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funded 80% of the $1.2 million Green Oaks project through a competitive grant process.
In recognition of Starkville’s successful upgrade program, the city received a public works award from the Mississippi Municipal League earlier this year that highlighted Starkville Utilities’ innovative problem solving, project management expertise, citizen participation, and efforts “to provide a higher level of service” for customers.
“Long before work starts, we’ve analyzed every phase to ensure that projects proceed safely, efficiently and according to budget,” said Vincent McKenzie, Starkville Utilities systems engineer. “We’ve been entrusted by customers to be responsible stewards of Starkville’s utility systems, and that’s what we’ve demonstrated throughout our capital improvement plan.”
Starkville Utilities is a municipally owned and operated electric and water utility, serving more than 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville as well as the state’s largest institution of higher learning, Mississippi State University.