Study to address Sherman's aging sanitary sewer lines

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
The city of Sherman approved an $87,000 agreement for the surveying of sewer utilities in downtown Sherman in an effort to address recurring issues in the district.

Modernizing infrastructure in the heart of the Sherman has become a priority for city leaders.  An $87,452 contract with Burgess & Niple Inc., who is expected to survey and map the aging sanitary sewer lines that run through downtown Sherman in an effort to address ongoing concerns by business owners and residents, was recently approved.

Through the study, the city hopes to find the cause of reported issues with sewer services in the district, which include odor concerns, among others. This represents the first of nearly $500,000 of investment that the city pledged last year.

“The utilities in downtown are among the oldest in any part of Sherman,” Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said in 2020. “You are looking at pipes that could be more than 100 years old in some cases. In fact, you look at the sewer map of downtown Sherman, it reflects the haphazard nature of 150 years of development.”

City leaders previously said that some of the utilities that run through downtown are unknown and unmapped by the city simple due to their age. Through this and other efforts, city leaders hope to get a proper gauge of the condition, location and route of many of the aging pipelines in the area.

Wayne Lee, Sherman director of engineering, said the survey will include video recording and smoke testing of many of the downtown lines to determine if there are any issues or breaks. This will include all of the manholes in downtown.

Once the survey are completed, city officials will be able to determine the location and nature of any issues in the lines.

"After this, we will know if it is our line or the individual business' line that is the problem, or a combination," Council Member Pam Howeth said.

City officials previously said the issues surrounding downtown sewer services have been a growing issue, especially as redevelopment and reinvestment have taken place in recent years. The city has conducted previous studies to determine the location of many issues in the sewer lines, but results have come back inconclusive up to this point.

City Council member Sandra Melton asked if the issues could be related to the sewer services being inadequate for this new development in downtown. However, city staff said this is unlikely as there has been little vertical development in the district.

Other theories have focused on storm runoff as a possible cause of the issues.