LCUB discusses sewer rehab

Lenoir City Utilities Board voted on March 25 to approve an engineering agreement with Fulghum, MacIndoe and Associates, Inc., to work on rehabilitating the Browder Hollow sewer sub-basin.

The agreement includes design work on the basin, but the eventual construction work was not voted on and would have to get approved later, said LCUB general manager M. Shannon Littleton.

Littleton estimated that construction work would begin early next year or mid-summer of next year, depending on the speed of progress.

According to the agreement, the utilities board “wishes to reduce rainfall-derived inflow and infiltration within the Browder Hollow sub-basin and to initially focus sewer rehabilitation and replacement efforts within mini basin BH1.”

The work is in response to Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation concerns.

“This happens all over the state, but in this particular basin, there’s more I and I [inflow and infiltration] issues going on than should happen normally,” Littleton said. “And that’s been noted by TDEC, and they simply want us to repair the system, and we’re going to do that.”

It is mostly an infiltration issue, Littleton said, when large rain events lead to water entering the sewer system.“It was getting into the sewer system and ultimately to our plant, and sometimes when the water gets so severe, it comes back out through the manholes,” he said. “... We stay on top of those issues and have very few of them, but we’ve got to make sure that our plant doesn’t receive a lot of this water because obviously we’d have to treat it, and it’d cost the rate payers money.”

Shannon Ashford, TDEC communications officer, said TDEC has met with the utilities board about overflows in the basin.

“Inflow and infiltration can lead to sewer overflows, which have the potential to adversely affect public health and the environment,” Ashford said. “Inflow and infiltration can also raise treatment costs at the wastewater treatment plant.”

The board also approved renewing utility board health care insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield, with one abstention.

Littleton thinks this is the first time in several years that the premium renewal has had no increase.

“I’m excited about that because I think it’s a lot that our employees have done on managing their health care cost,” Littleton said. “Secondly I think it’s things that we’ve done internally.”

He does not expect a zero-percent premium renewal to repeat itself next year.

“It’s mainly out of what we see coming down the line with Obamacare,” he said. “More than likely, those issues are going to really manifest themselves two years from now, but we may have to make some preparatory payments next year in preparing for two years from now.”