C+S September 2022 Vol. 8 Issue 9 (web)

Last November, with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress appropriated $55 billion for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to improve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. Un- doubtedly, such investment is needed. A 2021 report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers awarded the United States a D+ for its wastewater infrastructure. The report found 15 percent of wastewater treatment plants are exceeding capacity. Of the 16,000 wastewater treatment plants Head Start Even Before National Legislation South Carolina Community Invested Heavily In Wastewater Pipeline By Thomas Renner

Work on the Dig Greenville project began in 2018 and concluded earlier this year. Photo: Black & Veatch

Growing Community Mayor White knows Greenville better than anyone. A city native, he joined the City Council in 1983 and became Mayor in 1995. When he took office, the city’s population stood at around 240,000. Now, the city’s population stands at more than 550,000. White and city leaders have transformed the municipality. His tenure as mayor has been defined by neighborhood revitalization, economic development, and critical projects for downtown. “I’ve always wanted Greenville to be the most beautiful, livable, welcoming city in America,’’ White wrote on the city’s website . White’s vision has helped him earn national recognition. In 2018, Time magazine selected White as one of “31 People Changing the South.” He has spearheaded economic development in the city, located in the state’s “Upstate Region” and about halfway between Charlotte and Atlanta. With shopping, restaurants, cultural events, craft breweries and events nearly 300 days a year, residents and visi- tors certainly dig Greenville. In many growing communities in the U.S. population growth strains existing infrastructure, and that problem also faced Greenville. Without more capacity, the community would be at risk from increased over- flows. This risk posed a direct threat to water quality, the environment and economic development. “If nothing is done, ReWa’s sewer lines and the area along the Reedy River would be at a higher risk for the environmental impact of sewer overflows,’’ Rich said. “Furthermore, economic develop- ment would be threatened because no additional wastewater flows can be added to the sewer lines. While the project is a long-term fix, Dig Greenville will also meet immediate needs by providing an increased buffer against sewer surcharges due to inflow and infiltra- tion during rain events.” ReWa considered 18 alternatives before deciding on the gravity sewer tunnel. Rebuilding the sewer line was prohibitive, and too disruptive to

in the U.S., 81 percent have reached their design limits. “As many treatment plants and collection networks approach the end of their lifespans, the financial responsibilities for operation and maintenance will become more costly” the ACSE report noted . The same analysis found that in 2019, the investment gap in the wastewater industry was a staggering $81 billion. Unlike many other communities, the city of Greenville, S.C., found itself ahead of the curve when it comes to improving its wastewater management system. Nearly 15 years ago, community leaders rec - ognized the population growth and understood that the city’s waste- water conveyance infrastructure needed a major upgrade. Earlier this year, a 1.3-mile gravity-fed sewer line opened in Greenville. The Dig Greenville project, also called the Reedy River Basin Sewer Tunnel, cost $46 million and is the largest infrastructure project in the city’s 191-year history. “It definitely puts not just the downtown, but rather the whole city in a better position for the future,’’ Mayor Knox White said when the project was introduced in 2016. Renewable Water Resources (ReWa), a 97-year-old organization that protects the region’s waterways and wastewater infrastructure, spearheaded the effort. Black & Veatch led the design and provided construction management services. The tunnel is expected to serve the Greenville community for the next century. “Dig Greenville is one of the most important infrastructure invest- ments needed to ensure economic growth in the area,’’ said Graham W. Rich, Chief Executive Officer of ReWa, when the project started. “With this investment and hard work, sewer lines and the area along the Reedy River will be at lower risk for sewer overflows, especially when rainfall is high. This investment and work were also required to ensure Greenville’s future economic development since, without it, no additional wastewater flows could be added to the existing lines.”



September 2022

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