New Johnson City wastewater pump station toured by officials

Brad Hicks • Jun 14, 2012 at 6:58 AM

Members of the Boone Lake Association and officials with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation got an up-close look Wednesday at Johnson City’s Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant and three new sewer pump stations constructed to provide great capacity to the city’s sewer system.

Around this time a year ago, the city held a dedication ceremony for the Johnson City Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was also part of Wednesday’s tour. At the same time that project was under way, the city worked to replace and expand three key sewer pumping stations — two along Cedar Point Road in the Carroll Creek community and the other on Honaker Court in Gray — and install approximately 31,000 feet of sewer line. The stations, which were a half-decade in the making and went online in May, serve the areas of Carroll Creek, Boones Creek and Snyder Creek.

“The significance of these stations is that as you have the need for sewer service in the Carroll Creek drainage basin or the Boones Creek drainage basin or other drainage basins north of Johnson City, this will provide future capacity to allow additional sewage flows to be taken to the regional plant,” said Tom Witherspoon, Johnson City director of Water and Sewer Services. “It will also minimize the number of customers that will have to have septic tanks, which is a concern as far as the water quality in Boone Lake.”

Witherspoon said planning on a project involving the pumping stations and sewer lines began about the same time construction started on the Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant in 2007. He said the existing pumping stations, which were constructed in the late 1970s, were in need of replacement.

“With a lot of mechanical equipment and with capacity, we had gotten about as much use out of those stations as what they were designed for,” Witherspoon said. The city upgraded the equipment at the stations, and also added capacity over the existing stations. Each station also has equipment that will send signals to the regional plant, providing information on how each of the pumps are functioning and what flow rates are. The regional plant will also be alerted if there are any issues at the stations, so personnel can quickly address the issue before sewage goes out into the lake, Witherspoon said.

Each pumping station was also constructed with a dedicated standby generator. In the event of a power loss, these generators will allow each station to continue to function and pump wastewater.

“That’s good for us, and that’s a good thing for the lake,” Witherspoon said.

Witherspoon said replacing the stations presented a challenge, as the existing stations needed to remain operational during construction. Construction of the new stations and the sewer line work, which Witherspoon said was publicly funded, cost around $10 million and was completed in two separate contracts.

“This is part of our water/sewer capital plan, and it took about five years to deliver this,” Witherspoon said.

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