ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Board of Education will be looking at two possible options to address the aging sewer treatment plant at Cherokee High School, and neither option is inexpensive.
Bill Shedden, school maintenance director, asked the BOE’s Buildings and Grounds Committee on Monday for permission to advertise for bids on two different types of system.
The BOE was already in the process of initiating upgrades at the existing plant, which has been in operation since the school was constructed in 1980.
On Monday, Shedden reported to the committee that a consultant has advised against renovating the old plant.
That would be “throwing good money after bad,” Shedden said.
The consultant made two recommendations, including replacing the old plant with a new identical plant at an estimated cost of $560,000. That system costs about $12,000 per year to operate.
Option two is installation of a drip system with a large fill bed, similar to what was installed at the new Clinch School for an estimated $610,000. This option is preferred by the state, Shedden said.
“Option two would actually be less expensive to maintain and less expensive to operate over the years since you’re not running pumps, you’re not running grinders, and you’re not running systems that use additional energy,” Shedden told the committee. “The only thing you use is a pump to pump material to a fill bed. Option two does require 5-6 acres, plus another 5-6 acres in case a soil specialist says the first choice doesn’t work.”
Shedden added, “State prefers the drip system to (the existing) discharge. That’s not saying it’s better or worse, but the state prefers it and it’s a lot less costly to operate.”
There is property available behind the baseball field or behind the football parking lot, as well as at the existing plant location. A soil analysis will be conducted to determine site suitability.
There is no grant funding available for new sewer treatment plants, so the county would face the full cost of the replacement.
Monday’s meeting was a workshop and no action was taken, although the issue is expected to come back up during the BOE’s next regular meeting on Dec. 5.
Committee members asked Shedden to find information about the longevity of the drip system.
Shedden noted that the drip system may be off the table if the soil isn’t acceptable.