Murfreesboro sewer assessment presentation made

Published 5:24 pm Friday, October 29, 2021

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MURFREESBORO – A final presentation of results at Murfreesboro’s Town Council meeting here on Oct. 13 wrapped up an ongoing wastewater asset inventory and assessment (AIA) project.

Gary Flowers of Municipal Engineering Services shared the details of the assessment project, which was funded through a state program by the NC Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Infrastructure. Murfreesboro was approved for the AIA grant in 2019.

“We looked at about 11,400 feet of sewer pipe,” Flowers reported during the presentation. “Most of the sewers that we inspected were old terracotta clay. They used to be used a lot when sewer systems were [first] established.”

The brittle clay pipes were found to have an extensive number of issues, including fractures, holes, root infiltration, pipe sags, offset joints, and more. In some parts of the system, they discovered telephone communication cables had been drilled through the middle of the pipes, which Flowers said is not uncommon but often not discovered either until an assessment project is done.

Flowers explained that these pipe issues often allow too much groundwater into the system.

“All that groundwater ends up down at your wastewater plant. So you’re treating a combination of wastewater and rainwater, which is not efficient,” Flowers said.

The AIA results showed that almost 80 percent of the pipes inspected were in need of rehabilitation and replacement. Many of the 41 manholes included in the assessment were also found to have issues in need of fixing.

Earlier this year, the town secured a zero-percent interest loan of $1.8 million from NCDEQ’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund to cover the costs of rehabilitating the issues discovered in the assessment. When approving that loan, the Local Government Commission noted that rehabilitation of the sewer system will reduce operation and maintenance costs associated with taking care of older infrastructure.

The sewer rehabilitation project is projected to begin construction next year.

In addition to checking for issues throughout the town, the AIA project also included GIS mapping of the entire sewer collection system.

“The first part of asset management is having an accurate inventory of your infrastructure assets. If you don’t know what you have, you don’t know where your problems are,” Flowers explained.

Flowers wrapped up his presentation by noting that the town can apply for more grant funding next year. He explained that the AIA program was established by NCDEQ in order to help municipalities across the state take a more proactive approach to managing their water and wastewater systems.

Council member David Brown motioned to accept the project deliverables, which include digital and bound copies of the GIS maps and other assessment documents, and Council member Sarah Wallace seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor.

During a regular meeting in September, the council also unanimously approved a resolution to apply for an AIA grant for the town’s water system.