"We're playing in the mud down there," said Wayne Livingston, general manager for Oxford Water Works. "There's nothing we can do about it."
Livingston said construction began around November at the site, which is located near an old 34-acre rock quarry 90 feet deep and filled with spring water from underground. Many rainy days in the meantime have made work sporadic at best.
"We've started a little concrete down there to concrete the bottom for a clear well, moved a little dirt, but we're just working in between the rain," Livingston said. "And we're not even in the rainy season. That's from January to March."
Meteorologist Mary Keiser with the National Weather Service in Birmingham said since the beginning of October, 35 days of rain have put 19.77 inches of water in the ground in the Anniston-Oxford area. The levels for the three-month period are above average, Keiser added.
Completion of the treatment plant is scheduled for the end of 2010, but if the heavy rainfall continues, that could change.
"It all depends on the weather," Livingston said.
He said once the plant is completed, it will have a 3-million-gallon-a-day capacity with the ability to expand to 6 million gallons a day to meet future needs. To date, the city produces 9 million gallons of water a day, which is enough to meet current demand. All city water is pulled from wells, Livingston said.
Oxford Water Board Chairman Luke Whittle said the purpose of the plant is to meet future demand.
"We're growing so fast, we've got to provide (citizens) with services," Whittle said. "We can't wait until the future gets here."
The plant is expected to cost approximately $7 million. Most of the money for the plant came from the sale of property around plant site to the city, Livingston said.
Former Oxford City Council member Mike Henderson said the City Council and the Water Board decided to work together to purchase the property that would become the Oxford Exchange and the treatment plant.
"We have a great relationship with them," Henderson said.
Livingston said the city and the Water Board each paid $5 million for the property, then the Water Board sold most of its share back to the city save for 60 acres for the new plant. He said 34 acres of it is the actual water source.