Riverview sewer project runs afoul

Manchester Water and Sewer Department indicates that a sewer overflow that occurred around May 15 near the old Riverview school along the Little Duck River was not a danger to the public.

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The spill was estimated to have been 1,840,000 gallons, according to a letter from MWSD to the state Environmental Field Office.     

Director of Water and Sewer Bryan Pennington said that in part the location of the spill limited any public danger.  

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“Immediately after discovering the overflow, the MWSD began a discussion with our Environmental Consultant and the State of Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation,” Pennington said.  

Riverview sewer project runs afoul

“It was determined there was no danger to the public and that no public notice was necessary. This decision was due to the immediate corrective response of the MWSD, the remote location of the overflow, the terrain, and the fact that the greenway/ area of the overflow was previously closed to the public due to the construction.” 

“The MWSD takes any sewer overflow very seriously. If an event occurs, the first step is to identify the reason for the overflow and take corrective action as needed, and then clean and sanitize the site,” he added. 

With this overflow, Pennington explained,  the department immediately contacted the contractor to get the bypass pumps that were diverting sewage to isolate a section of pipe to be retrofitted  restarted. 

“With no action from J&H, the MWSD restarted the pumps, stopped the overflow and cleaned-sanitized the site. In addition, we contacted the State of Tennessee and notified them of what had occurred and asked for any additional guidance,” Pennington explained. 

“Their response was that we were following the proper procedures. Our Environmental Consultants agreed that we were taking the proper actions to mitigate the overflow. On that same day (May 18), J&H abandoned the job and their responsibilities, so we ordered our own pumps and equipment that were delivered on the afternoon of May 18. Our next step was to notify J&H's Bond company to file a complaint in order to have the work resolved,” Pennington said. 

The Water and Sewer Department has made a claim against J&H Construction's performance Bond and insurance company seeking to have the construction issues resolved in a timely manner. A large volume of supporting documents was submitted and are under review by the bonding company. 

“In addition, we have asked the bonding company to expedite their review so the issues can be resolved and the work finished,” Pennington said.

The spill had occurred when the contractor allowed pumps to run out of fuel and the system  began to discharge its contents into the area.

The Riverview sewer rehabilitation project ($600,000 remaining in the contract to be done) involves pipe bursting, a system that inserts equipment into an existing sewer line, then burst out the old sewer line and pull a new one in its place.

The section that is being retrofitted is isolated from the system with a bypass pump set to move sewage from one manhole to another downstream. 

The area has been cleaned up, but remains closed, not for environmental hazards, but for safety reasons. 

“There’s a section of pipe floating in the river… and while we have the bypass pumps working in the area the pipes have to cross where the trail crosses the creek. We don’t want anyone to fall or trip over those 8-inch hard pipes,” Pennington said. 

“It looks as good as it ever has. Of course whenever you have construction going on, it’s  muddy and a mess, but we’ve gone down there and put in erosion control matting and added a lot of things that the contractor should have been doing,” he said. 


John has been with the Manchester Times since May 2011. He covers Lifestyles in addition to handling education reporting and general news assignments.John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. John is a 1994 graduate of Tullahoma High School, a graduate of Motlow State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

Staff Writer

John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. He is a graduate of THS, Motlow and MTSU. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

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