Repairs increase fire safety, water service reliability

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lewisburg's Water and Wastewater Department continues to plug sewer leaks, find water losses and, last week, a crew installed a valve on the public square to improve pressure and flow for fire hydrants.

An unacceptably high loss of drinking water from the city's distribution system prompted a search for leaks, Utility Superintendent Kenneth Carr told the utility board last month and last week, he explained several had been found.

Utility crewmen also excavated pavement in front of Parson's Pharmacy on Thursday.

"We were installing a valve on the line that goes around the outer perimeter of the courthouse so we could shut off only some of them instead of all of them," Carr said.

"We did it to isolate a leak if we had one," the superintendent said.

"It's also put there for fire purposes," Carr said. "We could increase pressures and flows to either half of the square" for fire hydrants.

"We've been planning on this for a couple of years," he said. "We had the full crew out."

Lewisburg's Water and Wastewater Board met Thursday afternoon when at least two decisions were made.

"And we sold .212 acres, less than a quarter acre, for $5,300 to the Tennessee Department of Transportation," the superintendent said.

The sale price may be seen at a rate of nearly $25,000 per acre.

The land is along Mooresville Highway and "runs parallel to the current right of way at the Mooresville tank," Carr said.

The 1.5-million-gallon water storage tank is on the south side of the highway near the West Side Fire Hall.

"TDOT bought the land to build a retaining wall" for the widening of Mooresville Highway, Carr said.

Meanwhile, the utility continues to look for water leaks, "and as we find them, we fix them. We are looking for that magic bullet that probably doesn't exist - a big leak. We've probably got a lot of little leaks, so that's what we're concentrating on, finding leaks in water lines.

"Six or seven leaks have been found," Carr said Friday.

He hoped department crews would have found another leak by today.

"We're also shutting down line areas so we can determine if the leak is between point A and point B," he said.

The department is also dealing with seepage into sewer lines. Sewers don't leak out into the ground. Ground water seeps into the pipes because the water finds the opening of the pipe and flows downward through gravity flow systems.

Water seeping into a sewerage system does dilute wastewater, but the increased flow is a problem for the sewage treatment plant, sometimes exceeding its capacity. As a result, the city will be increasing the treatment capacity of its plant and build a storage tank to hold excess flows for treatment after flows decrease.

Meanwhile, sewers are being repaired.

"We know that with the leaks we've found that we've lowered some inflow to the treatment plant," Carr said.

Few, if any, wastewater collection systems have perfectly closed systems, so infiltration is not uncommon. Increasing treatment plant capacity is also a step toward making the utility ready for population growth. Without adequate capacity, other cities have faced sewer moratoriums, meaning no new connections may be approved because the sewerage system is incapable of treating greater flow.