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Construction Crews Address Sewer Infrastructure

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The City of Guthrie shared this article about the sewer infrastructure and the details behind the new sewer lines. For more information, or have questions please visit the City of Guthrie’s website.

Have you noticed the construction crews that were working in the Cottonwood Flats area recently and wondered what they were doing? You will soon see them working in various parts of the City. These crews are addressing an essential infrastructure issue; our sewer infrastructure. The City of Guthrie has been working diligently to assess needed improvements to its sewer infrastructure in response to events that date back to 2003.

In 2003, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) issued a consent order to the City of Guthrie. A consent order is a finding of violation of ODEQ rules and the steps that an entity is mandated to take in order to resolve the violation. In Guthrie’s case, this consent order was issued due to the high number of sewer overflows that have occurred. Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO’s) occur because Guthrie’s sewer line system is deteriorating due to age, or in many areas, has become too small to handle the amount of wastewater that flows through it due to growth of Guthrie and increased usage. When the wastewater cannot flow properly due to the size restrictions or deterioration, it backs up and overflows out of manhole covers or other openings. Many of the sewer lines causing these overflows are more than 60 years old. SSO’s are very bad for the community as there are health risks associated with exposure to raw sewage and the costs to clean up each overflow is between $500 to $700. Guthrie experiences around 70 of these each year, costing nearly $50,000 of taxpayer money annually.

After the City was issued the consent order in 2003, Guthrie entered into the CMOM (CAPACITY, MANAGEMENT, OPERATION and MAINTENANCE) program and has spent the past seven years taking inventory of the lines in our sewer system and of the manholes. Through this inventory process we were required to inspect, analyze, map, and test the lines through both smoke testing and flow testing, and ultimately providing periodic audits of our progress and expenditures to the ODEQ. The City of Guthrie found that there are approximately 1160 manholes and 56 miles of sewer line within the municipal sewer system. During this 7-year period of the original consent order the City has spent over $2 million as we upgraded, replaced and repaired as was required.

The ODEQ issued a new consent order to the City of Guthrie on September 21, 2010. This new consent order is based on what has been learned about the wastewater distribution system through the CMOM program of the past seven years. The ODEQ has fined the City $53,600 as a penalty for the SSO’s we have experienced. The City was required to pay $13,400 in cash and the balance of $40,200 will be deferred as we complete each task required by the new consent order. The City is required to repair and/or rehabilitate approximately 33,332 linear feet of sanitary sewer line which is considered to be currently or potentially contributing to the chronic SSO’s. In November of 2010 the City solicited bids for the required work. Seven competent contractors responded and Jordan Contractors was awarded the contract.

The construction portion of the project began on the 15th of February. Construction crews started in the Cottonwood Flats area of 5th Street and Warner moving west. They are doing some pipe bursting in the Academy Road and Orbit Drive areas. As the work progresses you will see a gray pipe laid out along the easements in various areas of the City. This is the pipe used in pipe bursting which is a less intrusive process of restoring old lines. In other areas there will, of course, be open trenches that will upgrade the pipe to a larger size to accommodate increased usage. We are very confident that we will complete this project within the allotted time ending in June of 2012. The total project has a budget of $4.4 million and is being funded by the CMOM fee assessed on the sewer bill.
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