Springfield's aging sewer system in Doling Park-Pea Ridge Creek set for major replacement work

(UI) — With more than 1,200 miles of pipe and over 28,000 manholes, the city of Springfield's sanitary sewer system transports gathered wastewater to one of two treatment facilities before discharging it into Wilson's Creek, which empties into Table Rock Lake, and the Sac River, which empties into Stockton Lake.

Although a sewer system's architecture should last about 50 years, a major part of Springfield's system is older than 100 years. However, as the city launches the first of two projects in the north and center portions of the city this summer, the effort to replace and modernize the network makes a considerable advancement.

In order to accommodate anticipated expansion and development in the region, the major objectives of the work are to decrease the frequency of sewer overflows that result in pollution and enhance the size and capacity of underground sewer pipes.

According to KYTV-TV Springfield, the two projects, which are expected to cost a total of $9.5 million, will begin in late June or early July north of Doling Park and entail drilling beneath I-44 and Norton Road. This development, known as the Doling Park project, would use a bigger diameter pipe to replace 6,900 feet of current sanitary sewage main.

The Pea Ridge Creek Improvement Project, the follow along the north fork of the Pea Ridge Creek between Heritage Avenue and National Avenue, will link to the north part of the Doling Park Project somewhere around August. In order to increase sewage capacity, 1,200 feet of 18-inch main will be installed to run parallel to an existing pipe, replacing 5,500 feet of 12-inch main that is currently in existence.

“A lot of our sewer has been in the ground upwards of 80-100 years,” Project Manager Tim Schoenhoff told KYTV-TV Springfield. “And we have a high rate of rain runoff that gets into that system that’s old and has a lot of leaks. We don’t have the capacity to hold all that rainwater, so the sewage starts backing up, and it comes out into the creeks, which is not where we want it. We definitely want to keep our waterways clean, so that’s why we want to get this done. Obviously, new sewer pipes will leak a lot less. They’ll handle more capacity. This area we’re about to work on has a lot of backups and sewage coming out of the system. So it’s a top priority, and that’s why it’s getting highlighted first.”

It is not anticipated that any work will start in the northeastern part of Doling Park until the winter or spring of 2023 or 2024. When construction starts, the walking path loop north of the pond could be temporarily blocked, and the nearby sidewalk and southeast parking lot might also be affected. As the project advances, the general public will be informed of any affects from development.

Except for the potential for Norton Road to be blocked for a one to two day period while equipment is being put up, the boring that will take place beneath I-44 and Norton Road won't have an impact on traffic there.

The city of Springfield has been working on an ongoing Overflow Control Plan to comply with state and federal regulations that require the elimination of sewer overflows and the improvement of water quality. This plan is just one component of a larger plan to rebuild and upgrade Springfield's sewer system.

“We find ourselves slightly behind the curve right now,” Schoenhoff said according to KYTV-TV Springfield. “So we’ve planned out for the next 15 years to get to a point where we can replace aging infrastructure before it becomes a hazard and won’t have any sewage overflow during most rain events.”

This story was originally published by KYTV-TV Springfield.

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