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First Utility District line Kingsgate sewer pipes

First Utility District is taking proactive steps to prevent pipe problems in Farragut.

Wayne Watson, FUD spokesman, is especially proud of a new technique First Utility employs to fix some problematic sewer lines recently used on 1,200 feet of pipe in Kingsgate subdivision.

Old clay or concrete lines crack easily, and lines such as the one running through Kingsgate can leak and fill with rainwater, causing overflows downstream.

First Utility hopes to prevent any of these problems by lining the pipes.

Lining pipes allows FUD to fix leaks without digging up and replacing sewer lines.

The process involves unfurling a felt-like fabric down the pipe and hardening the resin coating with hot water. The end result is an impermeable coating.

“This is a flexible liner. It’s just a piece of felt that we put in, pushed it through with water pressure, and it’s just like unrolling a sock,” Watson said.

“This pipe that’s lined shouldn’t leak anymore. We shouldn’t have any water getting in the pipes,” he added.

The lining process costs First Utility $33 a foot.

“But just digging through people’s yards and road was expensive also,” Watson said, adding that FUD budgets about $2 million a year to line pipes. So far, they’ve lined around 10 miles of sewer line.

“We know where we have problems; we know where we’ve had sewer overflows. … We try to check what lines the volume of water goes up in when it rains,” Watson said.

To find cracks or holes, First Utility uses camera scopes.

First Utility employee Steve Carmon said without the cameras no one can know the reason for backups without digging up pipes.

“What we’re not having to do now is dig up 1,200 feet of people’s yards,” Watson said.

Not all pipes are eligible for lining, depending on size, extent of damage and even future construction and volume. Those that aren’t eligible have to be replaced.

Watson explained the lining program was spurred by the Clean Water Act legislation, “a national movement to clean up these sewer systems, dry them out and prevent the [rain]water from getting in.”

“And this is a good way to do that without digging,” said Pat Spangler, project foreman for FUD.

“Eventually, most of this old pipe will be rehabbed.

“We’ve been pretty aggressive with sewer rehab for the last couple of years. We’ve been trying to do our best,” he added.

“We’re trying to do anything we can to keep rainwater out of our system. This is the best method, and we’re not digging up lawns and sidewalks and streets,” Watson said.

“For the next few years, we’ll have somebody along these lines working in the Farragut and West Knoxville area. Our next big project will probably be over in Village Green,” he added.

First Utility services more than 500 miles of pipe in the West Knoxville district.

“Being proactive now, hopefully we can cut enough infiltration out of the lines,” Spangler said.

Watson explained improvements to lines are the reason for some rate increases.

“We’ve got to make these improvements to the system. It doesn’t bring us any additional customers, any additional revenue, but we’re spending $33 a foot … to prevent overflows downstream,” he said.

“We try to keep our rates down by being proactive,” Spangler said.


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