JASPER, Tenn. - After completing internal inspections of all the town's manholes and nearly 15,000 feet of sewer line over the past year, city administrators are ready to begin the bid process for the work to correct the many problems that were found.
Gary Cosby of CTI Engineers Inc. said the system hasn't been inspected since it was built in the 1970s and the assessment found large cracks, bulges and offset joints in some areas.
Those problems allow rainwater to get into the system, officials said, and that means the town must pay more money for exceeding its sewage treatment capacity.
"The whole idea is to limit the amount of water that is leaking into the sewer system," Cosby said. "Where the pipe is broken, clearly, water can either come in or go out."
Cosby said Jasper's manhole covers are in "remarkably good condition," but they need to be sealed to prevent more rainwater penetration into the system.
Alderman Steve Looney said he wants to make sure the city is doing what it needs to do for a long-term fix.
"I'd rather spend more now and fix this problem for the next 25 years than spend a minuscule amount and have the same things happen in four years," he said.
Cosby said he anticipates finding more problems in the system, because only about 18 percent of the sewer lines have been inspected.
"We targeted areas that we thought may have been worse than others," he said. "Some of the other areas may not be this bad, but I don't know that for a fact. That's why I call this 'Phase I.' I think [Jasper] is embarking upon a multiyear task."
The process of the sewer line's evaluation and repair could continue for two to three more years, Cosby said.
Officials estimate the initial repairs will cost $165,000, and city leaders unanimously agreed to allow Cosby to begin the bidding process.
"This is basically the worst of what we've found so far," Mayor Billy Simpson said. "I don't think we've got any choice but to fix it."
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org