​SUD Elects New Commissioner; Reviews Plans for 2017

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
The vote count at the Jan. 24 meeting of the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners saw Charlie Smith elected to serve a four-year term as commissioner. During the course of the meeting SUD manager Ben Beavers reviewed plans for sewer repair, progress on the Midway pressure boosting station, and a request to supply water to Cooley’s Rift. Beavers also discussed the possibility of SUD offering leak insurance.
Reporting on operations, both supply lakes were overflowing, Beavers said. The board agreed with his recommendation to “lift drought restrictions and return to normal operations.”
Due to heavy rainfall, inflow and infiltration of ground water into the sewer system increased, according to Beavers, “but not nearly as much as in the past during heavy rain events. There were no overflows, and the refurbished Abbo’s Alley line worked fine.”
SUD completed camera inspection of the Baker’s Lane sewer line. “The line is in good shape,” Beavers said, “but restricted due to debris and grease. There’s no value in upsizing the line.” Instead, SUD will smoke test to determine the inflow source. Beavers suspects an open pipe or manhole cover. He projects the budgeted cost of refurbishing the line will decrease by nearly half.
SUD finished 2016 with revenues a significant 10.8 percent over budget and expenses just slightly over budget due to prepaying 2017 insurance in December. “Cash on hand, $1,722,000, is 20 percent over last year,” Beavers said.
The cash reserve has more than recovered the amount SUD withdrew for the 2014 meter replacement project. Beavers attributed the over-budget 2016 revenue to the large number of taps sold in 2016, 13 total for the year.
The board approved the SUD engineer’s recommendation to award the contracts for the Midway pressure boosting station to the two low bidders, Walter A. Wood Supply Co. for the pump ($34,586) and G & C Supply for materials and equipment ($4,326).
“The pipe should be here next week,” Beavers said. “The pump is being built. We told them we want it as soon as is humanly possible.”
Beavers expressed concern about the Cooley’s Rift developer’s request for water service to the remainder of the residential lots in Franklin County. “The hydraulic analysis showed minimum pressure,” Beavers said.
SUD engineers are reviewing the data. Beavers pointed the Midway pressure boosting station as a possible remedy for increasing the pressure. He stressed that Midway customers would not be in any way negatively impacted—“Were prevented by law from doing anything that would be detrimental to existing customers.” The developer would bear all costs related to increasing the water pressure to acceptable levels.
At the March meeting, the board will hear a presentation on leak insurance from an insurance provider. If SUD decides to offer leak insurance, the adjustments policy would change slightly. “The lifetime limit on three adjustments would be lifted,” Beavers explained.
The adjustment policy would continue to allow customers one adjustment per year, with the customer paying half the cost of the leaked water and SUD paying half. If SUD decides to offer leak insurance, for customers who opt in to the program, the insurance company would pay both the customers portion and SUD’s portion.
The estimated cost per month to customers choosing insurance would be $1.50-$1.80, Beavers said. The insurance policy would not cover leaks in the home.
At the next meeting on Feb. 28, the board will elect officers and oversee the swearing in of new commissioner Smith.