KIMBALL, Tenn. -- The looks of frustration and aggravation on the faces of the members of the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen said it all.
In January, the board ordered a video inspection of parts of the town's sewer lines.
At the board's February meeting, Anthony Pelham, a civil engineer with James C. Hailey & Co. in Nashville, presented the results. He said at least 1,300 feet of the city's sewer line along state Highway 2 had major problems with rainwater flowing into the system.
"After the video survey, I did come back and walk several of the lines last week and noticed several clean-out traps that were busted," Pelham said. "Broken clean-outs are probably the No. 1 contributors to [inflow and infiltration] simply because it's an open hole directly to rainwater."
When rainwater gets into the system, officials said, the town has to pay extra money for exceeding its sewage treatment capacity. Kimball Mayor David Jackson said the city paid more than $16,000 between May and October of 2010 because of rainwater problems.
"Every time it rains, it costs us money," Alderman Jerry Don Case said.
The analysis revealed that one of the worst problems is under the Krystal parking lot on U.S. Highway 72, where pipes are almost completely wrecked, Pelham said. He described that area as an "emergency" in need of immediate repair.
All the sewer line repairs would cost an estimated $120,000, officials said.
Jackson said the city's sewer line problems have become a constant irritation.
"We don't get a whole lot of revenue off our sewer system," he said. "I don't know exactly how many dollars we've spent on it in the last year and a half, but we continue to have these problems and this cost."
Board members wondered whether they should make all the repairs at once or correct some of the smaller issues in an effort to delay paying the hefty price tag.
Alderman Mark Payne said that, when a municipality has detailed documentation and doesn't take action, the state can intervene with fines and even jail time in some cases.
"I've always lived by the theory that you don't halfway do something," Jackson said. "If we're going to do it, we should do it right. We may have to look at a sewer rate increase. We've had to do that in the past. When they take it to Nashville and the sewer fund isn't in the black, they do not talk nicely to you."
Trying to fix the problem -- at any level or cost -- is the proper thing to do, especially when the state is keeping an eye on the system, Pelham said.
"Effort and being proactive always carries weight when you get into enforcement if you have a problem," he said. "If you've done nothing, more often than not, [the state is] going to come after you."
The board voted to have Pelham's engineering firm work up a set of bid specifications for all the necessary repairs.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.