City of Brentwood commissioners and planning commissioners held a joint work session Jan. 30 to discuss the state of the city’s sewer system and what improvements are being made to its infrastructure.
Held in the Annex Room at Brentwood City Hall, the joint commissions heard from city staff, consulting firms and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation on progress updating the city’s sewer system infrastructure and ways to better handle overflows during heavy rainfall.
“I know overflows have been the topic, but it’s really a bigger picture and something that has been going on and being worked on for 10-plus years,” Brentwood City Manager Kirk Bednar said. “We felt it was appropriate to get the history first, then go through the tools and the process of what we’ve been doing and still what’s to come.”
The city contracts with Metro Nashville for treatment of its sewage. Extensive work started after TDEC issued Brentwood and Metro Nashville an agreed order in 2006, which required Brentwood to develop a corrective action plan to reduce overflows at its pump station.
“Overflows are when high capacity is exceeded and that waste water sewer comes out of the system,” said Chris Milton, Brentwood’s water services director.
According to the city’s website, the main reasons for overflows happen when:
• Blocked sewer lines often due to grease, rags or other materials wrongfully put into these sewer lines
• Infiltration/inflow of excessive stormwater into sewer lines during heavy rainfall
• Malfunctions of pumping stations, other equipment or electrical outages
• Broken sewer lines caused by construction, line failure or geologic conditions
The city monitors overflows and is required to report the incidents to TDEC. So far in 2020, wet weather has been the cause of two reported overflows on Hillsboro Road, according to the city’s website.
For more information, visit https://www.brentwoodtn.gov/departments/water-services/sewer-system/system-capacity.
George Garden with TDEC said many cities across Tennessee deal with overflows, but he felt Brentwood was making good progress towards addressing its sewer overflow spots.
“You have done as good as anyone in the state has done,” he said. “You’ve done it in a reasonable amount of time, and it’s well documented.”
Garden also emphasized the impact overflow can have on the environment.
“You’re at the top of our list of people who have been successful in removing volumes of [inflow and infiltration],” he said. “I’m not here to minimize overflow to bypass these at all.”
To date, $30 million has been spent in Brentwood towards sewer rehabilitation. In 2017, which was one of the city’s most recent projects, $1.63 million was spent on rehabbing 9,800 feet of the system.
Bednar reminded those in attendance water and sewer improvements can’t come out of the city’s general fund. The funds are raised through rate-based cost, which means the sewer system has to “pay for itself.”
The process towards constructing a new $7 million pump station storage facility to handle an increased amount of sewage during wet weather peak flows is set to be voted on by commissioners later on this month.