Both reports came from Craig Mullinax, manager of CU’s Water Division, who briefed members of the utility’s board in a recent session.
For the past few weeks, CU has conducted its third Sewer System Evaluation Plan, an initiative in which non-toxic smoke is forced into sewer lines, one neighborhood at a time. The idea is for escaping smoke to show where sewer lines might be leaking, therefore allowing outside water to infiltrate the lines.
Since the summer project got under way, CU crews have smoked out 57 defects that will be further investigated or repaired.
“In addition to these defects, we have replaced and/or repaired approximately 60 cleanouts that were broken or missing during testing,” Mullinax explained.
In the past month, smoke testing has included a 12-inch sewer main from 18th Street SE to 9th Street. SE, around the Lee University campus, the Candies Creek Interceptor from Old Harrison Pike to the lift station, Rolling Hills Subdivision, the Everhart drainage basin, Peachtree Pointe and the drainage basin from Johnson Boulevard to 15th Street NE.
At his last report-out to board members a month ago, the smokers had found 28 defects; the number has now doubled.
“It’s surprising to me that we’re still finding ... these problems,” said CU General Manager Tom Wheeler. He said the fact the smoke test is now being three-peated, and still finding defects, points to the importance of conducting the periodic investigation.
To show the smoke test’s effectiveness and value to the public utility, Mullinax pointed to one example of a sewer line under 13th Street in which a 48-inch culvert pipe was receiving the equivalent of 480,577 gallons per day from a creek. Because an existing 10-inch sewer line was broken, it was allowing in 474,421 gallons per day of the creek’s water flow. The volume of water estimated if the 10-inch sewer main was flowing full is 705,022 gallons per day.
“This flow (described as “unauthorized water infiltrating the sewer system”) was costing us roughly $700 per day,” Wheeler said.
Finding the defective sewer line at the culvert via the smoke test was “a tremendous find” for Cleveland Utilities because its repair saved the utility a lot of money, Mullinax added.
LIke their counterparts in the Electric Division, CU’s water and wastewater crews are braving some oppressive July temperatures to stay on schedule with the smoking test. “We’re working real hard to get all the way through our system,” Mullinax stressed.
In another matter of water, Mullinax pointed out that numbers from the CU Water Filtration Plant are showing a projected annual rainfall for the Cleveland area in 2010 of only 44.59 inches. If the trend stands, this would be about nine inches below normal.
For the month of July, CU is showing a rainfall shortage of almost seven inches (6.92) for the Cleveland area. In some areas, it could even be more, according to periodic updates from the National Weather Service in Morristown.
On a more positive note, Mullinax said a review of water usage among CU’s largest customers is showing an increase. For the month of June, the utility’s 10 largest water users are showing a 32 percent increase. Five of those top 10 hit 13-month highs, he said.
“It’s encouraging as far as the economy,” Mullinax noted.
In other CU Water Division developments:
n The Dalton Pike Utility Relocation project, which is paid 100 percent by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, is 22 percent completed; at least, the completed part is the portion being handled by local utility crews.
- Interstate 75 Exit 20 area sewer work is 98 percent completed.
- The Park View Elementary School (Minnis Road) sewer project is 80 percent completed. It fell behind briefly due to wetlands issues, but is getting back on schedule.
- Engineering plan approvals have been granted for CU’s work on a sewer line and water main at 13th and Barnes streets.
- Engineering plan approvals have been granted for work on a new water main for Phase III of a professional park on Clingan Ridge Road.
- The rerouting of a water line as part of the new airport project is 100 percent complete.
Mullinax also reported the total number of water meter sets through June 2010 is only 250, compared to 323 for the same period in 2009 and 520 in 2008. This is due to the drop-off in the construction industry, he said.