Fairhope Standard: Gravity Fed VS Low Pressure Sewer System

At the November 27th Council meeting, a citizen spoke to gravity fed sewer system vs low pressure sewer system which is what is being installed in new developments despite the City having a standard. Let’s break through the confusion.

In December 2002, Fairhope Utilities and the City Planning Commission set the standard for wastewater collection methods in new developments. All City standards are established to provide a desired level of service for property owners that the City feels is appropriate and justified. Gravity fed sewer is the standard level of service the City chose for wastewater collection. It is our preferred method of sewer service, and the least troublesome to the customer in the long term. Our Director of Operations, who was hired for his expertise in matters such as this, maintains that this is still the best way for us to go and I support him in this effort.

Gravity sewer does require maintenance and some public awareness of the best practices for longer term functionality – proper disposal of grease, “Baby Wipes” and certain other products as well as the protection of sewer clean-outs in yards and any connection of storm water drainage system to the sewer. The gravity fed system was chosen because it delivers the most reliable service long term both for our customer and for the city.

The low pressure system may initially be less expensive but requires a grinder pump at each customer site. These grinder pumps have a +/- 5-year life span and replacement costs are born by the homeowner – every time. Despite claims to the contrary, the gravity system for most subdivisions is not any more expensive vs the low pressure system considering overall costs.

We believe the primary reason why developers install the low pressure system is because they don’t pay most of the total system costs. The homeowner pays for the grinder pump required for this system in their total construction costs. Ongoing pumping costs are included in their power bill. This system does not meet the City standards unless there are significant hardships, in the opinion of Fairhope Utilities, from a maintenance or cost evaluation.

Fairhope Utilities and the City Planning Commission worked together in 2002 and continue working together on this issue to preserve and protect our City’s future. We want to establish an Engineering Department where better mapping and long-term planning can better assist developers in their planning efforts while protecting our city’s environment. The ability to perform long-range planning for water and sewer utilities will help minimize overall infrastructure costs and decrease the overall operation and maintenance costs of these systems. Planning is predicated upon long-range land use planning where density, intensity and location of development is provided in the form of a future land use map.

Future land use planning will be a component of a new and reality-based Comprehensive Plan. By being able to project land use, our utilities can better project and plan long-range in order serve the proposed development type and density/intensity appropriately.

Fairhope Utilities must operate efficiently and effectively. We have determined that the gravity fed sewer system allows us to do that while providing the best possible sewer service to our customers. Land use planning helps our utilities to plan sewer services into the future using our standard to determine whether we can serve the site economically. If not, other plans will be made for the site. Maintaining the standard keeps costs down for the city’s utilities company and the consumer. Deviating from the set standard costs the utilities company and our consumer. You can read more about this from Water Environment & Reuse Foundation.


Mayor Karin Wilson

Hurricane Nate Update, 10/7/17, 4:30pm

Dear Citizens,

Voluntary Curfew Strongly Encouraged:

This is a serious storm with an expected storm surge of up to 8ft.

The Shelter of Last Resort is now open. The Baldwin County Coliseum has been activated as a temporary 24-hour shelter. Pack only personal items and medication for this time-frame.

Utilities: 251.928.8003 or email utiloutage@fairhopeal.gov 

Customers should report utility outages, low water pressure, water leaks or sewer problems to the number and email provided.  Leave a short description of the problem with name, address and phone number. Operators will monitor the calls and we will be mobilizing crews when conditions are safe to respond. Please do NOT call the police department.  

Please remove and/or bring in garbage cans and small items.  This is another reason to stay off the roads due to flying objects.

For consistency, we will be sharing information from BCEMA and encourage you to follow their FaceBook for your up-date info.


Sat, 6:10pm –   Hwy 1 Limited Water: 

The significant damage to piers that caused problems with our water system during Ivan were on the stretch of County Road 1. They planned to isolate that section of the water system to protect the integrity of the entire water system based on historical data.

The storm projections for landfall further west than when we first announced our plan to shut off all water on County Road 1. After further evaluation late this afternoon, we are now going to use the valves to limit the volume of water through this section of the system so any leaks from storm damage will not drain the entire water system.

The City of Fairhope is prepared. Please be safe!

Mayor Karin Wilson

Sensationalized Headlines and Innuendos

Dear Citizens,

Questions have been raised regarding invoicing for IT services as well as about surveillancing of city employees. I wish to answer those questions to the extent I am allowed without divulging confidential information. My comments are also tempered by my constant efforts to safeguard the privacy of current and former city employees.

Elias Technologies was hired to perform internet security services for the City and the Police Department. The fact that the City entered a contract with Elias, and the amount of the contract, is not confidential.  Those facts can be released to the public and the media, and I will be glad to continue to discuss those issues publicly.

However, because the services provided by Elias were part of a process to update and improve the security systems of the city, I do not intend to discuss the actual details of that work.  If someone with the City has released such confidential information to the media, that would be a serious breach of the city’s security.  The invoices that have been released to certain media outlets contain confidential security information and I respectfully request that all media outlets use the leaked information in a responsible manner.

I, in my role and capacity as mayor, asked questions about some of the language in the Elias invoices, which may have caused some confusion.  I would like to clear up any confusion to the extent that I can do so without revealing information that would compromise the security of the city’s IT systems.

Elias contracted with the City to perform security services as described in memorandum called “scope of work.”  Elias agreed to perform those specific services for a total amount not to exceed $35,000.  Unfortunately, Elias performed additional services that were not described in the scope of work, and Elias billed for those services.  I did not receive an invoice indicating that this additional work had been performed until well after those services had been performed. When I called this to the attention of Elias, the company redacted those charges and submitted a second invoice containing charges for only those services specifically described in the scope of work.   Elias willingly agreed to remove the disputed charges, and Elias will not be compensated for those charges.   Thus, by bringing this to the attention of Elias, I saved the City several thousand dollars.  I considered the issue a non-controversial and routine day-to-day function of my role as Mayor.  The City Council does not necessarily need to be notified of these ongoing security procedures, but I am happy to discuss these issues with any Councilman who desires to do so.

As with most private and government organizations, when an employee leaves the City, their computer must be processed.  This is done for reasons of routine efficiency, security, and in some cases, in anticipation of litigation for any employee, both terminated and those leaving voluntarily. This process has been in place long before I took office and will continue to be in place long after I leave. To the extent that a former employee’s computer was processed as a result of a security measure, or in anticipation of litigation, it is not appropriate for me to comment.  However, this is a reasonable measure taken by most, if not all, municipalities and counties.

To clear up any confusion, Elias was not hired for purposes of processing the computers or devices used by former employees.  That job is handled by in-house IT professionals working for the City. To the extent that Elias attempted to, or did perform such services, I will not approve any charge related to those functions submitted by Elias.  Due to the confidential nature of the work performed, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the exact nature of the work performed on former employees’ computers or devices but I will say this practice has been in place with our City before I took office.

Moreover, Elias’ scope of work did not include taking any part in the implementation of any other security measures taken by the City, such as the keystroke software that has been publicly discussed and criticized in some circles. I have no plans to involve Elias in this particular security program in the future.

Unfortunately, certain media outlets have chosen to take this relatively minor billing issue, which was easily corrected, and blown it out of proportion with sensationalized headlines and innuendos. This is a perfect example of the media trying to hype an issue when there really was no controversy in the first place.

Furthermore, any insinuation of my being under investigation is patently false.  It is easy to claim and  and publish accusations without any regard for the truth while putting me in the difficult position of having to prove a negative.


Mayor Karin Wilson


Happy Father’s Day!

I owe a great deal to my Dad!  Can you imagine having twins at the tender age of 21 years old?  He went to college with us in tow and raised us with the mentality that you can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it.

(Robbie Wolff, in 1972 when we moved to Troy, AL – the last time he shaved.)

My Dad is the one who shaped my character and taught me the life lessons that still endure today.


When my dad made the life-changing decision to quit drinking when we were around 13 years old, he withdraw us from school to travel the country for three months to figure out where we might consider moving for a fresh start.  It was an amazing experience and the pinnacle of my childhood.  But after three months, home was looking better and better. On our journey back to Fairhope my dad said something I’ll never forget. He compared our trip to the old fable about how treasures can be found in our own backyards. If we’re always focused on greener pastures, we may risk losing out on opportunities that exist right where we are.


He also never let me quit anything. There were many instances growing up where I begged and pleaded but he instilled in me at an early age that if you sign up for something you see it through because you’re invested for the long haul. This lesson has helped me in all aspects of my life from giving me the resolve to endure the hardships of being an independent bookseller to understanding, no matter what conflict face, circumstances always improve if you keep the right attitude.

I want to wish all the Fathers, Single Moms, Grandfathers and Stepdads a wonderful Father’s Day!  And hope you, too, enjoy your day reflecting on the life-lessons this person instilled in you.Save