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Sewer study warns of capacity issues

Councilman Pat Byrne (Left) speaks about the Eastside Sanitary Sewer Study during a July 25 city council meeting as Rick Dawkins (Right) listens. Photo by Jeff Harrison

eastside sewer study

Consultant says east side in need of major upgrades to sanitary sewer system

By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon

A study of the sewer system on the east side of Midwest City confirmed what city leaders suspected.

Experts say the city needs to upgrade its sewer system to accommodate current and future development on the east side. They identify nearly $30 million in projects over the next two decades, including expanding capacity at lift stations and installing new sewer lines.

Freese and Nichols, Inc. was hired by the city in spring 2022 to study the sewer infrastructure on the east side and create a plan for future expansion and maintenance. Clay Herndon with Freese and Nichols presented the findings during the July 25 city council meeting.

Herndon said they evaluated data about the current system and placed temporary flow monitoring to develop a hydraulic model. They calibrated the hydraulic model using population and wastewater flow projections, manhole surveys and inspections, and flow monitoring analysis. Herndon said the hydraulic model helped identify deficiencies in the current system, priority projects and triggers.

The east side is the fastest growing area in Midwest City with numerous ongoing and planned developments. The area identified in the study had a population of about 10,540 in 2022. That number is projected to grow to 10,955 (2025), 12,078 (2032), and 17,331 (2047).

The area is served by nine collection lifts stations that help carry wastewater over a ridgeline and to the sewer plant. Herndon highlighted two lift stations that are currently over capacity. The East

I-5 lift station, 11246 SE 15th St., is running at nearly twice capacity of .22 million gallons per day. The Hiawassee station, 12800 SE 15th St., has a capacity of .76 MGD and handles .90 MGD during peak wet weather.

“Those are two primary check points that cause the system to be under capacity ,” Herndon said.

The study listed six projects to address the current and future needs of the system.

Short term projects (within next 10 years):
• Expand Hiawassee lift station and add 10-inch forced main along SE 15th St. between Anderson Rd. and Mill Creek Way. ($6,727,500)
• Add 10- and 12-inch sewer lines along Lakeside Dr. ($3,241,200)
• Add 10- and 12-inch sewer lines along Timber Ridge Blvd. ($2,685,100)
• Expand Edgewood lift station ($11,212,500)
Long term projects (through 2045):
• Add 12-inch sewer line from Oakwood East running north ($2,158,800)
• Add 12-inch sewer line, decommission East I-5 lift station near SE 15th St. and Westminster Rd. ($2,816,600)

Ward 2 Councilman Pat Byrne expressed concern about the current capacity issues and projected population growth.

“If we don’t do something now with the lift stations and if they’re not maintained and operated correctly it could cause use long term problems,” Byrne said. “The biggest one, is it could backup in people’s houses and then we as the city are liable for that.”

The city attorney agreed that the city can be held liable for damages through a tort claim.

Ward 1 Coucilwoman Susan Eads, who represents the Original Mile neighborhood and the southwest part of the city, said the city should study and address infrastructure projects across the city.

“We’re talking about hypothetical people moving into the east side at some point over the next 25 years, when we have real people living in areas of Midwest City that I guarantee have sewer and infrastructure that is overtaxed and dilapidated,” Eads said.

Paul Streets, public works director, said the Original Mile suffers from aging infrastructure but not issues with capacity. He strongly agreed with the need to study and upgrade the city’s buried infrastructure. He said the city is planning a sewer master study that will look at the entire city.

“I have been on my soap box for a long time,” he said. “There are a lot of things underground that need attention. Everyone takes them for granted. And there’s a lot in the Original Mile that needs to be done.”

Streets also hammered the need for sewer upgrades on the east side.

“When you have lift stations that are only designed to run 6-8 hours a day and they’re running 20 hours a day, you’re way beyond capacity,” he said. “If those fail there’s no place for it to go.”

The council accepted the study presentation but took no action on a related agenda item that would have Freese and Nichols study funding sources for sewer improvements. The funding study would cost an additional $71,776.

Eads objected to the additional study which she believed would only focus on the east side.

“I don’t want to stop east side development and I do not want sewage backing up into homes,” she said. “But I would like a broader scope.”

City manager Tim Lyon said they intended to use the additional study as a blueprint for funding infrastructure improvements across the city. He said the result will be some type of public/private partnership.

“We’re at capacity right now and we need to look at how other cities manage projects and how they get main line to developers,” Lyon said.

The council took no action on the item. City staff plans to revise language in the request and present it again at the next meeting.

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