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Employees of Craig Construction had to use a track hoe to move two sections of 38-inch wastewater pipe back into place Wednesday. [COURTESY PHOTO]

SHEFFIELD — A 38-inch wastewater line that likely broke during recent flooding has been repaired, Sheffield Gas, Water and Wastewater Department Manager Tommy Barnes said Wednesday.

Barnes said Craig Construction set several steel beams around the pipe and attempted to manually hoist the sections back into place Tuesday.

They were unable to move the pipes and had to bring in a backhoe Wednesday morning. The backhoe was able to move the pipes back into place and the leak was stopped at about 10:30 a.m., he said.

"They found a 10-foot width track hoe that could get through that path," Barnes said.

He said it took about 24 hours from the time the break was discovered to complete the repair.

"I can't give enough credit to our operators and the contractor," he said. "We picked up on it quickly, and got it repaired quickly, considering what we had to do get there. We knew when the flow quit coming to the plant something was wrong."

A Sheffield Electricity Department tree trimming crew had to be called in to remove trees and briers from along the bank.

The pipe broke at a coupling, likely due to the recent flooding on the Tennessee River.

Sheffield Utilities is seeking grant money from two federal sources to move the sewer line on land.

Barnes said the wastewater spill was estimated at about 700,000 gallons. He estimated the cost in the $20,000 range.

Colbert County Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Smith asked Barnes to forward any costs associated with the repairs to the EMA.

Smith said Colbert EMA is documenting expenses related to the 2020 flood to see if the county meets the threshold needed for a possible federal disaster declaration.

He said other counties that were hit harder during the recent flood are also documenting damage and could seek a federal disaster declaration.

Gov. Key Ivey declared a state of emergency for all 67 Alabama counties related to the flooding.

 "There could be a lot of damage that nobody knows about until the water recedes in places," Smith said. "The state's aware of that, and we're documenting stuff as it comes in."

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