published Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Cleveland Utilities’ water and sewer rehabilitation projects advance

By Paul Leach/Correspondent

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Rehabilitation projects intended to improve the efficiency and prolong the life of Cleveland Utilities’ water and sewer systems are in full swing.

The projects — announced earlier this fall — include the reduction of stormwater infiltration of the city’s wastewater lines and giving the utility’s Hiwassee River raw water intake structure a thorough makeover.

“We are in the water business to stay in the water business,” said Chris Wilds, facilities maintenance supervisor for Cleveland Utilities, who praised the utility’s long-term perspective and approach to service.

Sewer rehabilitation efforts are focused in southern Bradley County, generally defined by Chattanooga Pike, Varnell Road and Blackburn Road, according to utility officials.

The area — termed Basin 31-45 on Cleveland Utility maps — is responsible for nearly 23 percent of the sewer line infiltration despite only comprising 11 percent of the total sewer system, according to a study conducted by Littlejohn Engineering.

The hands-on inspections, nontoxic smoke tests and camera monitoring of manholes and lines are nearly completed, said Philip E. Luce, water division engineering manager. Plans for sewer system repairs will be formulated once all the data has been analyzed, Luce said.

Cleveland Utilities began refreshing the interior of its raw water intake structure on the Hiwassee River in December. The station’s walls and pipes have been primed to receive coats of epoxy paint. The paintwork probably will last 20 years and improve the equipment’s resistance to corrosion, Luce said.

The next phase of rehabilitation for the raw water intake structure will be the replacement of its static and traveling filter screens, which are designed to catch leaves, limbs and other large debris before water is pumped to the treatment plants. That work may begin as early as January, Luce said.

Wilds said the rehabilitation work will require specialist teams of scuba divers to replace and repair worn parts on the screens. The static screens, located on the outside of the structure, extend at least 20 feet below the water’s surface, as do the traveling screens that rotate within the station.

The Cleveland Utilities Board approved the $152,000 repair project as opposed to authorizing the purchase of completely new filter screens for $581,000.

The repairs are expected to give the filters between 10 and 20 years of life, General Manager Tom Wheeler said at the utility board’s November meeting. He said a new system would be expected to last about 30 years.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at

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