SUD Repairs Major Leak; Commits to Midway Pressure Boosting Station

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“Wetland plants were well established suggesting the water line in the Jackson Point Road area had been leaking a long time,” SUD manager Ben Beavers reported at the Oct. 25 meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Sewanee Utility District of Franklin and Marion Counties. Former SUD commissioner and board president Cliff Huffman alerted SUD when he discovered the wetlands, Beavers said.

Repairing the 14,000 gallons per day leak will result in a dramatic decrease in unaccounted for water loss, Beavers emphasized. Not only was SUD not being paid for the water, producing that much water takes from 20-25 minutes per day. “SUD will also realize a savings in chemical and electricity costs,” Beavers said.

In another water supply issue, SUD commissioner Randall Henley said he’d received numerous phone calls asking why SUD had not addressed the low water pressure in the Midway community.

“This has been going on for years,” Henley said.

SUD’s 2016 budget calls for a pressure boosting station in Midway. “I’ve been trying to figure out a way to increase the water pressure without the expense of the pressure boosting station,” Beavers said. When recent remedial work to St. Andrew’s-Sewanee water tank failed to correct the problem, he consulted with engineers who proposed raising the height of the tank, a solution just as costly at the pressure boosting station.

“Plans call for completing the Midway pressure boosting station before the end of the year,” Beavers said. “The only task remaining before we begin installation is getting the electrical easement signed.”

Beavers said the Midway project was temporarily delayed due to the pressing need to replace more than 400 feet of broken clay pipe sewer line in the Alto Road area, which allows rain water to flow into the collection system and cause sewage overflows. “The right of way has been cleared, and we’re ready to install the pipe,” Beavers said. SUD is also doing collection system repair on Depot Branch.

Discussing the 2017 capital improvements budget, Beavers said, once the Midway project and collection system work was completed, most of the critical capital improvement needs would be addressed. “We’ve been putting out brush fires. I want to move to more preventative stuff,” he said, “particularly leak detection.” He estimates a $100,000 capital improvements budget, compared to $200,000-$300,000 in past years.

Reporting on operations, Beavers said he declined the University’s request to fill its irrigation pond, “due to the drought conditions.” Water sales are below budget for 2016.

Commissioner Henley offered to serve as election coordinator. The SUD Board of Commissioners will have one open seat beginning in 2017. All SUD customers are eligible to serve as commissioner. Prospective candidates should contact Randal Henley via the SUD office (598-5611) or, alternately, submit a petition signed by 10 SUD customers by Jan. 4. Petitions are available at the SUD office. Voting begins on Jan. 5 and continues through the close of the business day on Jan. 24.

The SUD board meets next on Monday, Nov. 21.