It's been decades since some sections of the community's wastewater system have seen repairs.
In 2018, the inevitable has arrived and city officials are giving residents a heads-up of a looming headache.
According to Kilgore City Engineer Clay Evers, an initial 7,000 linear feet of pipe are set for a major overhaul in the months and years ahead. It will be an ongoing disruption for some homeowners, and city personnel are planning ahead to offset as much of that necessary evil as possible.
Phase I will cost an estimated $1.8 million, followed by $1.3 million for Phase II. Each part is estimated at about one year.
Affected homeowners will be notified as the reconstruction of the wastewater lines draws near, Evers told council members during a workshop Tuesday evening. He highlighted the Riverside basin this week, noting the advanced age of the pipes there, the difficult-to-reach placement, the multitude of issues residents are already dealing with from the system's faults and the extensive work ahead to fix the problem.
That one area, Evers added, accounts for 15 percent of the problematic inflow and infiltration that reaches the city's water treatment plant.
Fixing it will solve a large part of a big problem, but it won't be easy.
“I'm not going to lie. This is a major disturbance,” Evers said. “We're going to be tearing up the streets and laying new lines.”
It's all part of rehabbing a system that, in many portions, hasn't been touched in a generation or more, Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck said. Some residents weren't alive when the pipes near – and under – their homes were last addressed.
“This is going to be a mess,” he said. “Because it’s in such dense residential neighborhoods, and we’re putting it back in tight rights-of-way. It’s going to be difficult. It’s going to be kind of messy. We’re going to do our best to minimize that.
These initial homeowners won't be alone: “We’re going to go through this in all of the old neighborhoods in town over time.”
According to Selleck, the entire wastewater system has advanced to an age where the majority of it will need to be replaced in coming years.
Much of the infrastructure was installed 70 years ago, run through homeowners' backyards, creating a myriad of private property conflicts.
“In this situation, the project will be very invasive,” Selleck repeated. In some areas elsewhere in the city, “We'll be able to use technologies that reuse the existing line and will line it with a coating that won't let water infiltrate it.
“In the older neighborhoods, the next 10 to 20 years we'll see similar projects where we'll have to come in and eliminate the existing system and replace it with a new, appropriate system.”
It's a necessary inconvenience to treat an extensive problem, but city officials aim to stay attuned to the needs and concerns of the residents who will be affected.
“With past projects we've found frustration from residents where project timelines are lengthy. We're going to have a lot of that,” Selleck allowed. “Our number one goal is going to be trying to communicating with the impacted residents. We hope we'll avoid as much as the frustration as we can.”