Ongoing sewer manhole repairs in the City of Memphis have uncovered a variety of issues. This manhole will likely have to be rebuilt due to a number of fiber optic conduits that were inadvertently bored into the structure at some point.

Less than a fourth of the way into a project to rehabilitate some of the most deteriorated manholes in the municipal sewer system, the City of Memphis is seeing the price tag for the project dramatically increase.

“The manholes are in worse shape than we anticipated,” said City Administrator Allen Creek. “Seven of the eight that have been worked on have required more repairs than originally expected.”

Creek explained at the November 7th Memphis City Council meeting that the agreement for Spectra-Tech for the manhole rehab called for an additional $1,000 for the construction of floors and “benches”. Creek noted that seven of the eight manholes worked on thus far did not have a floor and thus required the creation of a new base. That worked included the creation of a bench, which he explained as basically a channel for the flow of the sewage.

The city has a three-year agreement with the service provider to rehab some of the oldest manholes in the municipal system.

“Basically the process involves pressure washing the existing manholes, removing the old, iron steps which are no longer safe, and then  coating and sealing the interior to prevent leaks and inflow,” said utilities superintendent Stacy Alexander.

He indicated the first stage of the rehab involves a number of old brick manholes that date back more than 100 years to the original system construction.

Creek indicated the cost overrun likely will cause budget issues at the end of the rehab project, when the council will have to either approve additional funding or lower the number of manholes to be rehabbed.

Much of the initial work has been completed on North Street.

Creek praised the efforts of the city’s water and sewer department in the process.

“Randall (Aldridge) and Lathan (Watson) have done a great job identifying these issues,” said Creek. “During the process where they have been cleaning and jetting the sewer lines, they have tagged all of the manholes in need of repairs and further inspection.”