Storms fuel sewage spill near Lenoir Greenway

Jul. 06, 2013 @ 05:17 PM

Crews from the City of Lenoir were out working Saturday to clean up an overflow of stormwater and sewage along the Lenoir Greenway, Director of Public Utilities Radford Thomas said.

A little more than a mile of sewer line along the Greenway tends to leak during heavy rains like those the city experienced this week. It’s the city’s “worst problem area” in terms of water and sewer, Thomas said.

Most of what overflows from that section of sewer line is stornmwater, Thomas said, but there’s not much the city can do about the problem while it’s still raining.

“We’re still concerned about it, and we try to do the best we can to mitigate it, but unfortunately, once it starts, it’s hard to stop until the rain stops,” Thomas said.  

The city has been approved for funding to replace the line through a state revolving loan program, which provides half the funds through a grant and half through a zero-interest loan. A bid will likely be awarded next summer, Thomas said.  

The sewer line along the greenway was installed sometime in the early- to mid-1960s, and there are now cracks in the line, Thomas said. Heavy rains mean excess water from both saturated ground and rising creeks enters the line and seeps through the cracks.

Although city officials have said that a number of projects may have to be put on hold indefinitely because of revenue cuts that will result from tax reform proposals still being debated in the General Assembly, projects involving the city’s water and sewer fund are self-supporting, including the planned efforts to repair the sewer line.

“We’re not nearly as susceptible to those types of budgetary concerns as the general fund would be,” Thomas said.

Future water- and sewer-related capital improvements could be affected by the actions of the General Assembly, however, if the state reduced funding to some of the agencies that provide grants to municipal water systems, Thomas said.