Murfreesboro faces wastewater options

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 30, 2004

MURFREESBORO – Updates to Murfreesboro’s wastewater treatment facilities are still a work in progress, according to information presented by Town Engineer Robert Graham of George Finch/Boney and Associates here Tuesday.

With the town still under a sewer moratorium, council members probed Graham for answers as to the status of the Special Order of Consent (SOC) and the update of the town’s non-discharge permit for operation of its wastewater lagoon and spray irrigation system.

The town applied for renewal of its existing permit two years ago and still has not received a response back from the regional office in Washington, North Carolina.

&uot;Division of Water Quality (DWQ) has undergone some restructuring,&uot; explained Graham, &uot;so I’m not sure they know who is handling the issue right now, however there are some alternatives to the projected expansion of wastewater facilities that must be considered nevertheless.&uot;

Among those alternatives were the possibilities of taking no action, rehabilitation of the collection system so as to eliminate the need for treatment plant expansion, or simply proceeding with expansion of the existing treatment and spray irrigation systems.

Speaking to the council, Graham explained, &uot;Since the town is under a directive from DWQ to correct the problem of excess flow and runoff from the irrigation fields, taking no action would not be a viable option.&uot;

He added that the second alternative would also fail to provide a reasonable solution and expressed the thought that it would not be a likely choice. &uot;At the time the original 201 Facilities Plan was prepared in 1978, the Murfreesboro sewer collection system consisted of some 13 miles of gravity sewer lines and 14 pump stations with most of the pipe being 8-10 inch clay converted into glass by heat and fusion with some asbestos cement pipe installed in later years in the Duncan Park Subdivision.&uot;

According to Graham, the original system was installed in the 1930’s or 1940’s by WPA, accounting for approximately four miles of pipe with some of the lines running as deep as 20 feet with major additions being made to the system after the lagoon treatment system had been constructed in the 1960’s and some additions to the collections system made in the 80’s.

&uot;Over the past five years the town has conducted a series of inspections on these lines and have found the clay pipe in generally good condition,&uot; he said. &uot;However there was a deterioration of the joints, which were completely open in some areas.&uot;

With root intrusion as a major culprit in the deterioration, the town supplemented funds from a Community Development Block Grant to reline approximately 2000 feet of pipe and perform spot repairs in others and also repaired nearly 55 manholes that were determined to have leaks from a series of smoke testing.

&uot;Despite these efforts,&uot; said Graham, &uot;there was still a five month period in 2003 where the average flow was not in compliance with the wastewater permit and actually ended up being five to six times the average flow.&uot;

He added, &uot;Reducing the infiltration/inflow to a level that will keep the monthly average flow within the permit will be a massive project. At least 14 miles of pipe need to be relined.&uot;

With long-term stability in mind and a projected overall cost of $3,560,000 for the rehabilitation of the system, Graham expressed the feeling that it would not be the most viable alternative, nor would be tying into a regional wastewater facility, since there was none to tie into.

&uot;The only option I see as a feasible one is the expansion of the existing wastewater treatment and spray irrigation systems,&uot; he said.

The town’s current system allows for 30 days of treatment and 36 days of storage at the design flow rate of 476,000 gallons per day with a projected future rate of flow at 663,000 gallons per day.

&uot;With the 400 acres of land that the town recently acquired, there will be sufficient area for the construction of a third lagoon that would provide the additional capacity needed to meet future treatment and storage needs while having the ability to expand the spray irrigation facility,&uot; said Graham.

The cost of such a plan is estimated at $1,917,900.

&uot;I’d hate to see the town invest $3 million on repairing the manholes that may or may not fix the problem,&uot; he said, &uot;when you have the opportunity to improve your existing irrigation fields and treatment and expand your facilities to accommodate future flow, I think that’s the best option.&uot;

However, while the town continues to wait on a response from the home office of DWQ regarding its permit and SOC, they are still required to investigate other long-term options for their wastewater needs.

Also in the meeting, Public Works Director Gene Byrd announced two vacant Public Works positions in light of council members voting to bump Chester Jones’s employment status from part-time to full-time.

In addition to personnel issues, Byrd updated the council on the closure of Hart Street as a result of a collapsed cross line under the road stating that although the road did not necessarily have to be fixed, repairing the pipe was not an option and that it had to be done and would probably cost the town a good bit of money to do it.

Murfreesboro Fire Chief Billy Deans stated the budget committee had applied for two to three grants to help supply the needs of the local fire department, however, a response is still pending.