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May 15, 2013

Wastewater problems continue for city

GREENVILLE — Even with a new wastewater reclamation center, the City of Greenville continues to have problems keeping wastewater out of local rivers and streams.

“The problem we have is our collection system,” Director of Public Works Massoud Ebrahim told the City Council Tuesday night, before the Council voted to consider a firm to study what Ebrahim said was a “very old” system. “Any time we have heavy rain, we have a phenomenon known as Inflow and Infiltration.”

The wastewater reclamation center was built to treat up to six million gallons of wastewater a day. Two holding tanks at the center are able to contain up to 50 million gallons of wastewater, awaiting treatment.

However, when there is a heavy rain, there is more wastewater in the system than can be contained, causing overflows from manholes and bypasses at the wastewater treatment plant, which leak in the Cowleech Fork of the Sabine River.

“And ultimately to Lake Tawakoni,” Ebrahim said.

In March, the wastewater plant experienced peak flows that exceeded the capacity of the new pumping facilities and resulted in flooding of one of the new buildings at the plant.

The Council voted to approve a budget amendment to pay the Freese and Nichols consulting firm of Fort Worth a total of $137,900 to conduct an  Inflow and Infiltration (I & I) study.

Ebrahim said overflows and bypasses are violations of the City’s permit with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the EPA Clean Water Act and expose the City of Greenville to potential enforcement actions and penalties up to $25,000 per day.

Ebrahim said Freese and Nichols has proposed a plan to assist in identifying and correcting the I&I problems.

The initial phase of the study will examine problems in the northern portions of the city. Following the study, the city will go out for bids on a project to fix or replace manholes and other pipes in that sector.

“More likely it is going to be between $500,000 and $1 million,’ Ebrahim said, with the work to be done in stages.

Once the problems in the northern sector are corrected, studies will be done in the southern and western sectors of the city.

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