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Franklin takes steps to fix sewage woes

By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer

Franklin town leaders are in the process of fixing some of the sewage spills throughout town, Franklin Town Manager Mike Decker said.

The main culprit is a manhole located along the Little Tennessee Greenway. In order to fix the problem, the town hired the McGill Associates engineering firm to develop a plan of action.

The firm proposed that an equalization basin be built near the water treatment plant, Decker said. Excess stormwater will be diverted into the basin and then pumped into the treatment plant, he explained.

Town leaders are hopeful that the basin will prevent backups in the water system and prevent overflows, Decker said. Last month Macon County Commissioners gave the town of Franklin five acres of land near the Franklin landfill, for the basin to be built.

In addition to building the basin, town leaders decided to address other areas in town that suffer from stormwater infiltration.

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According to a study completed by McGill, Franklin has eight places that are in need of improvements. Last month board member opened bids to fix the stormwater infiltration problem along Ulco Drive.

However, this is only the first area out of eight that needs to be addressed.

“We are trying to make an effort to fix this,” Decker said.

The permitting process has slowed progress, according to Decker. To fix a problem area, a schematic design is needed. After that, the project must go out for bid and the town must obtain any additional permits required if the area is a wetland or near a stream, he explained.

“It’s simply a matter of going through the process,” Decker said.

Town leaders have developed a plan to fund these projects by purchasing revenue bonds, Decker said. One way to make sure payments are met on time could be an increase in the water and sewage rates. The possibility of raising rates has been discussed by the board of aldermen but nothing has been decided, Decker said.

Franklin resident Denton Higdon was a victim of sudden sewage spills at his house several years ago.

Higdon’s house was flooded twice, once when he owned it and again after his son Travis purchased the house.

After the second spill, the town fixed the problem but ever since that experience Higdon said he would like to see Franklin develop a plan of action to prevent these spills from occurring.

“We need to find all the old lines and monitor them, and we need to upgrade the existing old pipes based on their age,” he said.

“As a town grows older so does its sewer lines,” Higdon said. “These are old terra cotta pipes that keep on breaking.”

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