Illinois City Considers Using Trenchless to Rehab Sewers

With the April 7 referendum for a 1 percent sales-tax increase to fund a wastewater treatment facility looming, South Beloit, Ill., Mayor Randy Kirichkow called a special meeting March 26 to address a fix that could potentially reduce leaks in the city’s most infiltrated area within a 12-month period, according to the Rockford Register Star.

Nearly 20 people packed into City Hall, leaving not one open seat, to hear how the city would combat a growing issue.

Kirichkow admitted that the city’s current sewer plant is aging. However, he said, the recent dumping of 750,000 gallons of sewage a day, mixed with groundwater and storm runoff that are being pumped into the Rock River, is an emergency that cannot be overlooked.

He believes that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will not allow a new plant to be built to hide the current situation and increase the capacity for groundwater.

“The pipes in the ground can only handle so much water,” Kirichkow said. “We have to cut that flow down.”

Commissioners Pam Clifton and Bob Redieske have long stated that a new plant is necessary to fix aging equipment.

Al Hollenbeck of the RJN Group gave a presentation at City Hall which focused on two plans.

Plan A calls for a bigger treatment plant. Plan B calls for fixing pipes and the plant.

Hollenbeck, a sewer engineer, said the $18 million plant designed to process 5.9 million gallons for South Beloit’s predicted population of more than 17,000 residents by 2030 doesn’t include fixing pipes. His presentation showed that by fixing pipes, main sewers, manholes and service laterals in an older sector of town, the plant can regain much of the capacity it loses because of groundwater and eliminate a minimum of 75 percent of the leaks.

He said the repairs could be done using trenchless technology requiring no damage or repairs to roads, and that after the work was done, the city could evaluate the need for a new plant.

“The sewers are old, are in a floodplain and will continue to leak,” Hollenbeck said. “You have to fix every piece. You can’t repair one, you have to do them all if you want to reduce the flow to your treatment plant.”

Currently, the city is billing for 640,000 gallons and the plant’s capacity is 3 million gallons. On average, the plant’s daily output ranges from 3.7 million gallons to 8 million gallons because of flooding over the past eight months. The group suggested the city look into cured-in-place pipe, which is a resin saturated field tube that fixes the pipe for a water-tight sewer system. The repair work is estimated at more than $4 million.

“That $4.8 million is buying a new sewer system, sewers within sewers without a lot of excavation,” Hollenbeck said. “Our experience, 30 years and hundreds of dollars, is fix your sewers first. That is typically what the Illinois EPA requires. That alone, fixing your sewers, will reduce the cost of a (new) treatment plant.”

Commissioner Bob Stone said he understood the need for fixing the pipes, but wanted to address the age of the plant and the need for a better working facility.

“I’m not saying that I don’t think it’s a good idea that the lines get done,” Stone said. “I don’t think anybody up here doesn’t see the benefit in lining these pipes. We’re saying the first thing is the plant is getting outdated.”

Clifton said if the city were to lose its plant because of age, it would be a bigger problem.“We’re not saying we’re blind to the fact that we need to do something with the pipes,” Clifton said. “The pipes don’t run the system if the plant goes down. So unfortunately … we’re at the point where the plant is so old we’re having two problems at once.”

She said $18 million is an investment and could be a revenue generator attracting growth to the area.

“In my 30 years, I’ve never seen a community that was successful doing a plant first,” Hollenbeck told Clifton.

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