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An aged sewer infrastructure has the City of Memphis staring down some extremely high repair costs. A recent report by Visu-Sewer highlighted an estimated $353,886 in needed repairs to a portion of the city’s oldest main sewer lines.
“The scary part is that only represents about one fourth of the city’s old clay tile sewer mains,” said City Administrator Allen Creek.
The Visu-Sewer reports shared with the Memphis City Council on April 2nd was for inspection of 17,555 linear feet of the oldest mains in the system.
“I would say that some of it is more than 100 years old, with the newest still being at least 50 years old,” said Memphis Utilities Superintendent Stacy Alexander.
The city’s sewer lines are showing their age according to the Visu-Sewer report. The company performed camera inspections of the sewer lines and identified a variety of repair needs.
The report recommended Cured-In-Place Pipe (CIPP) repairs for more than 7,000 linear feet of the reviewed system.
“This process rehabilitates pipes by installing a new fully structural cured-in-place pipe inside the host pipe from above ground,” said a representative of the company. “The new pipe ‘inside the old pipe’ will provide maximum strength and flow capacity without the need for digging.”
Despite been championed as a more economical approach to repairs, the proposal came with an estimated $180,000 price tag.
While these types of repairs would be feasible for most of the trouble areas, the city likely will still need to totally replace at least 100 linear feet of sewer line while re-grouting connections on another 350 linear feet of sewer line.
All combined, the needed repairs were estimated to cost in excess of $350,000. And that only represents roughly 25% of the sewer system that has been reviewed by Visu-Sewer.
In October of 2019 the city enter a four-year agreement with the company to review the municipal system, breaking it down into quarters each year.
Creek noted that the city had Visu-Sewer tackle the worst of the system in the first year of the process. He added that the system includes roughly 66,000 linear feet of sewer mains that are eight to 12 inches wide and another roughly 4,500 linear feet of six-inch line in addition to the 4,000 linear feet of 15-inch main trunk line.
While the price of the need repairs was overwhelming, Visu-Sewer representatives noted that there are plenty of small municipalities like Memphis that are in much worse shape.
“The technicians that were here doing the camera work in our lines praised the efforts of the city’s crew responsible for jettering the line and keeping them clean and open,” said Creek.
During the process, the inspections identified a number of issues with private lateral lines entering the city’s sewer system.
“I think there were 21 different problem areas related to private laterals,” said Creek. We will be working to notify the property owners of the issues so that they can pursue repairs.”