How bad is the 80-year— old sewer system in east town Columbus?

Not as bad as was originally thought by the engineers.

The city has received a $1.1 million grant and loan package to upgrade the estimated to be 80-year-old sewerage system.

Bruce D. Remsberg, Pittsburg Engineering consultant, gave council members, city employees and interested citizens an update on the progress of the sewer rehab.

Television cameras were sent through the sewer pipes, in December, giving the engineers a look inside the clay sewer syetem.

“Frankly, they were not too bad, we will have to replace about nine man holes and a few hundred feet of pipe where it has been crushed or broken,” said Remsberg. “In the remaining areas we will use a new system of putting a felt-like material into the pipe, pulling it from one man-hole to another then fill the clay pipe with a rosin, which harden  the felt-like material into a solid pipe inside the clay pipe.”

Though the pipe becomes slightly smaller the “slickness” makes the sewer more efficient, according to Remsberg.

After the new pipe has “cured” new holes will be cut with a “robot” to open the sewer “taps” into the main pipe.

“The entire project will require only about 15 excavations, we will need to make less cuts  than we thought we would find,” said Remsberg. “Less pipe replacement will be necessary.”

The plans should be finished in the next few weeks and be sent to Kansas Department of Health and Enviornment (KDHE) and the the federal departmenr of Housing and Urban Dev-elopment (HUD) for  their approvals.

The project should start in April according to Remsberg, barring unforseen delays.

The project will upgrade the sewer system from East Avenue east everything inside the city limits.

Councilmember Grant Speith asked if there would be anyway to put “taps” in the pipe for future use?”

“We find it is better to tap the hole right where it is needed at the time it is needed rather than put in taps that may never be used and could cause problems to the system later.

“You would have to make four or five times the taps you would actually use,” explained Remsberg.

“How long will the entire project take?” asked Council member Steve Dunlap.

“It should only take about three months to complete the project,” Remsberg answered. “However we will give the contractor four or five months for unexpected delays.”

“We believe there will be minimal disruption to the residents in the area,” said Remsberg. “Most sewer users may not have sewer service for one day. We may knock on their door and ask them to run some water so we can tell which tap goes to which house,”

The project will require removal of five flush tanks.

Flush tanks were installed with the original sewer to allow the sewers to be cleaned by releasing the large amounts of water in the tanks, to flush out the lines. This is no longer  allowed because it puts a fresh water connection into the sewer system which could back up in the open valve contaminating  the fresh water system, explained Remsberg.

All the manholes in the system will be brought level with the surface and sealed to prevent ground water from leaking into the sewer system.

“When we finish, in a perfect world we would have no more water going into our sewer than is being used in our water system, is that correct?” asked Mayor Harley McDaniel.

“In a perfect world, yes.” said Remsberg. “However at best we will cut the amount of groundwater going into the system by only about 50-percent because much of the ground water is coming from the pipes going to the individual sewer users and other openings.”

The project is being financed by a $400,000 grant from CDBG and a $762.000 loan from KDHE.