Commission awards city millions for repairing sewer main breaks

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Relief is on the way for residents along Meadowbrook Road, who for months have endured the sights and sounds of a sewer pump.

Recently, Jackson’s one-percent oversight commission awarded the city a $7,250,000 loan to repair 15 emergency sewer main breaks, including five on the Northside.

The breaks are a source of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and must be repaired under terms of the city’s sewer consent decree.

Jackson entered into the decree in 2012 and must make hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements to bring its sewer system into compliance with federal water quality laws.

SSOs occur when sewage is forced out of the sewer system and into the environment. The city is fined for each SSO that affects federal waterways, including Eubanks Creek and the Pearl River.

Years after entering into the decree, SSOs continue to be a challenge for the city.

“We are not meeting the requirements of the existing sewer consent decree regarding sanitary sewer overflows,” Public Works Director Robert Miller recently told the city council.

Repairs approved by the commission will go a long way toward addressing those occurrences, as well as improving quality of life.

On the Northside, crews are set to repair failures at 1055 Meadowbrook Rd., 5475 Ridgewood Rd., 1755 Lelia Dr., 2614 Southerland Dr. and 133 Cherry Hills Dr.

Contractors began work on the Cherry Hills line recently.

Miller said work would begin on other lines as they’re assigned to contractors. However, he didn’t give an exact date when work would begin on individual projects.

 

Dawn Macke, president of the OurFondren Neighborhood Association, said residents along Meadowbrook are anxiously awaiting the day they can bid their sewer pump adieu.

“The noise is a factor more than anything,” she said. “It’s located in a bad spot.”

The pump was installed earlier this year after a main collapsed in the 1000 block near Manhattan Road.

The device carries waste from one manhole to another, bypassing a broken section of sewer line under the street.

The pump runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is turned off only to be serviced.

“It has been there for months … long enough to become a fixture,” said Sara Weisenberger, vice president of OurFondren.

Residents also are concerned about the pump’s above-ground sewer lines, which run through some yards and along the curb.

“One (line) was going right across people’s driveways, so they’re having to back over it repeatedly,” Macke said. “I know that has to be annoying.”

City officials estimate that the Meadowbrook project will run around $1.2 million. Work on Ridgewood is slated to cost $350,000, while work on Southerland and Lelia will cost $27,000 and $15,000 respectively.

The Lelia project will include repairing a major sinkhole that formed at the corner of Lelia and Ridgewood Road back in the spring. Major storms in August exacerbated the problem, causing the sinkhole to get bigger. Orange cones and caution tape have been put out there to keep motorists from driving into it.

The Cherry Hills project cost $115,000 and was completed last week.

 

The commission awarded Jackson $7,028,000 in one-percent monies to make the repairs, and $222,000 to cover any cost overruns.

The city is required to repay the funds by the start of the 2020 budget year, which begins October 1, 2019. The money will be repaid from water and sewer collections.

The projects will be completed by Hemphill Construction, Utility Constructors and Delta Constructors.

In June, the city council approved bringing on the firms to make up to $5 million in emergency sewer repairs.

At the time, Miller identified 92 emergency failures across the city, including 26 in Northeast Jackson, Fondren and Greater Belhaven.

All 15 being paid for with the $7 million allocation were included on that list.

Contractors were still receiving their assignments at press time.

 

In other news, the commission also approved a $1.6 million loan to help the city cover consent decree program management costs through the end of the year, and $2.4 million for program management services for the 2019 fiscal year.

The decree is being overseen by Burns and McDonnell, a consultant based in Kansas City, Mo. The firm was brought on in 2017 and was granted a six-month extension last fall.

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