Round tank planned here, different from Gatlinburg's

Monday, April 11, 2011

The raw sewage holding tank that failed in Gatlinburg Tuesday when two men were killed is different in design from what's planned in Lewisburg, but similar in purpose.

The 30-year-old tank in East Tennessee was rectangular, Lewisburg Water and Waste Water Superintendent Kenneth Carr said Wednesday. The holding tank that's to be built here before the end of next year will be round.

"Round structures are stronger," Carr said.

The purpose of both tanks is to receive volumes of wastewater that exceed what a sewage treatment plant can clean as fast as the flow. It's a solution to overflows that happen when rain-swollen groundwater seeps into cracked sewers and thereby increases the flow by volumes that could exceed normal flows of wastewater.

A 100,000-gallon tank is planned on property that had been the Murray Horse Farm across Rock Creek from the Lewisburg park on Old Farmington Road. When the tank in Gatlinburg broke, more than a million gallons of wastewater were released.

The tank in Gatlinburg was operated by a contractor hired by the city. Lewisburg employees are to continue to operate the plant here after its flow capacity is doubled to six million gallons per day.

Some of what flowed from the Gatlinburg tank drained into the Little Pigeon Forge River.

Carr asked a question about the East Tennessee spill with a comparison to other utilities' tanks.

"Most plants have them," he said of holding tanks.

"How many do you know of that failed?" he asked rhetorically.

"One," he said, answering his question.