Columbia plans to rehabilitate sewer system and manholes

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COLUMBIA – The city is looking to improve 44,000 feet of sewer line and 400 manholes in Columbia. Sewer and Storm Water Utilities Engineering Manager Erin Keys said the rehabilitation is necessary to keep the sewer functioning properly and to avoid more expensive problems in the future.

“The city is actively trying to maintain our sanitary sewer systems to protect human health, the environment and use rate payer money efficiently,” Keys said.

Deterioration is normal since portions of the sewer system are 50 to 100 years old. The Flat Branch and County House Branch basins are the main locations for the sewer system work.

Keys said a deteriorated sewer causes health concerns. Periodically the storm water releases raw sewage into creeks and streams. This can also cause sanitary sewer overflows and backups in basements.

“The pipe is not designed to handle such high amounts of storm water created by a typical rain,” Keys said.

If the project continues, Columbia residents can expect to see crews conducting inspections. The city said it hopes to operate on the sewers trenchlessly to avoid any road closures. Instead of digging up an entire street, crews can work above ground to repair the manholes and sewer systems.  

“It’s a very minor inconvenience,” Keys said. “The method that we use is much less intrusive to property owners.”

The project will cost $2.7 million, and work will start immediately once it’s approved by council. The money is part of a five-year bond voters approved in 2013.