Hawkins officials hear cheaper option for straining jail garbage out of the sewer

Jeff Bobo • Apr 4, 2019 at 2:51 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County commissioners received a much cheaper option Wednesday for straining garbage from the jail’s sewer line than the $450,000 option presented to the Public Buildings Committee last month.

Hawkins County and the city of Rogersville have been mandated by the state to install a system that will prevent garbage flushed down toilets at the Hawkins County Jail from entering the Rogersville sewer system and creating clogs and backups.

At its February meeting, the county commission's Public Buildings Committee heard a presentation on three mechanical systems with a price tag starting at $450,000.

Afterwards commissioners wanted to know if there are any less expensive options.

On Wednesday, engineer Joe Parrott, who works frequently on Rogersville municipal projects, presented the committee with a much simpler and cheaper non-mechanical option.

It’s simply a metal “interceptor screen” to strain out the garbage.

“In order for this to work, I’ve got to have the sewer coming out of the building at a high elevation,” Parrott said. “Then we go into this sloped screen that traps all the stuff that prisoners have apparently been putting in the sewer system. It catches it on this sloped grate right here, and at a certain point in time when you’ve accumulated a certain amount of this garbage, you come in with a sanitary sewer rake and bring up the horizontal screen and let it drain out.”

Parrott added that he’s spoken to the owner of a company in Kingsport that will vacuum out the debris.

The estimated cost is between $25,000 and $90,000 depending on the grade and location where it is installed.

There may also have to be a bypass system installed because the jail and courthouse will be active while this project is under construction, and that would cost another $25,000.

Design engineering and supervision is estimated at $7,750.

The sewage vacuum contractor that Parrott spoke with charges $130 per hour, so he estimated about $390 per visit.

The committee asked Parrott to return next month with an official from the Rogersville Water Department to discuss the feasibility of this option.

In March 2017, three business on Main Street in Rogersville were damaged by a sewer backup caused by a clogged line attributed to debris that Hawkins County Jail inmates flushed down their toilet.

The most common items flushed were determined to be strips of cloth, either from towels, or uniforms, as well as packaging from food items that inmates keep in their cells.

As a result, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issued orders to both the city and the county to come up with a plan to prevent future sewer line clogs and floods and then to enact that plan.


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