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Jackson approves $3.2 million engineering contract to help design sewer repair projects

Jackson city council
Jackson city council(WLBT)
Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 4:17 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson city leaders say they’re taking a major step forward in addressing sanitary sewer overflows and bringing its sewer system into compliance with a federal consent decree.

Tuesday, the council approved a nearly $3.2 million contract with EJES Inc., to design plans to rehab at least 500,000 linear feet of sewer line in Precincts 3 and 4.

The firm will likely begin work next month, and the first contracts for sewer line repair could be awarded late next year, City Engineer Charles Williams said.

“If this is successful, it will be a blueprint (that we can) expand into the entire city,” Williams said.

The contract was approved on a 7-0 vote.

Work will include providing engineering services for the design and construction of collection system rehabilitation projects, including pipelining, pipe replacement, and manhole rehab.

Repairs will be paid for with a roughly $31 million State Revolving Fund loan from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

Williams said EJES will focus on projects in Precincts 3 and 4, due in large part, to the number of sewer failures called in to the city’s 311 system.

Once projects are drawn up, EJES will help the city bid out the work, respond to requests from contractors seeking bids, and prepare bid tabulations and award recommendations.

“We’ve been in the works, really over the past two years, securing an additional SRF loan from MDEQ to assist with collection systems failures in certain areas of the city,” he said. “We went through those steps and obtained a loan of $31 million.”

“One of the additional processes was securing a professional design team to assist us. We went through that process and EJES had the highest score,” Williams said.

He said EJES worked on a similar project in Shreveport.

As part of the design work, EJES will take previous data compiled on sewer line conditions and flow data, “review it and put together design plans and specifications to bid (work) out for contract,” Williams said.

He told the council that the work could help reduce the number of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) in the city and help bring Jackson into compliance with its 2012 sewer consent decree.

Jackson entered into the decree in 2012 with the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to bring its sewer system into compliance with federal water quality law.

The EPA targeted the city, in part, because of the large number of SSOs that occurred there.

Overflows occur when untreated sewage leaves the collection system and enters the environment.

Under terms of the decree, Jackson is fined $1,000 a day for every SSO that gets into a waterway designated a “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.

City documents show that from June 16 to September 30, 2021, the city had 58 overflows that reached the Pearl or tributaries of the Pearl.

Of those, 49 had not been resolved at the time of the report.

The largest of those include:

  • 1648 Pear Orchard Place - 11,500 gallons of untreated wastewater released into Purple Creek
  • Livingston St./Wilson St. – 50,000 gallons released into Town Creek
  • Woodrow Wilson Ave./Gordon St. - 28,800 gallons into Town Creek
  • 1985 Scanlon Dr. - 9,800 gallons into Hardy Creek
  • 629 Fondren Pl. - 10,000 gallons into Town Creek
  • 3436 Bailey Ave. - 6,000 gallons into Eubanks Creek
  • 454 Forest Ave. - 64,000 gallons into Hanging Moss Creek
  • Sheridan Dr./Broadmoor Dr. - 29,000 gallons into Eubanks Creek
  • 6009 Woodlea Rd. - 16,200 gallons into Hanging Moss Creek
  • 1915 Corley Ave. - 19,000 gallons into Town Creek
  • 3436 Bailey Ave. - 12,500 gallons into Eubanks Creek

The earliest of those was reported on June 16 and ran at least until October 29, 2021, the day the city submitted its quarterly report to EPA. During that period, that overflow alone cost Jackson $135,000 in stipulated penalties.

EPA has yet to collect on any of the city’s stipulated penalties. Meanwhile, Jackson is currently working to renegotiate the terms of its sewer consent decree.

It was not known if the Pear Orchard break or the other ongoing SSOs listed in the report had been repaired.

SSOs occur due to line breaks, blockages caused by grease, solids and tree roots, excessive flow and the like.

Williams said the work spearheaded by EJES would not only reduce SSOs, but reduce flow going to the Savanna Street Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“It extends the life of the plant. On the collection system side, all of the residents who would be impacted by the work would have less cause to (call) into the 311 system,” Williams said. “It will help the entire city.”

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