MILLWOOD — Pollution concerns are driving projects to put sewer systems in several Knox County hamlets, but plan details have drawn concerns from some residents. On Monday, the Knox County Commissioners joined engineer Jeff Carr from ADR & Associates to visit residents who have expressed concerns ranging from concern about line placement to opposition to the entire project.
Millwood was named after a grist mill, whose foundations lie just over the creek from the current mill at the end of Mill Street. Current mill owner Mike Lemmons, although not against the sewer system project, objects to having a lift station placed next to his westernmost building, because the spot is used as a turnaround for his vehicles at the mill.
The proposed lift station is a small pumping facility, 20- by-20-feet, that would be surrounded by a fence. Inside, a precast concrete manhole would give access to the pump. A control pad and a standby generator would also be inside the lift station. Carr assured Lemmons that the pump would only be programmed to run once a week for a short period to keep it in good working order. Otherwise, it would only run when the power goes out.
Lemmons preferred a different spot, along the edge of his property, but said he hasn’t yet decided for certain. Another spot, behind the mill, was also briefly considered before being ruled out as impractical.
The lift station needs to be on Lemmons’ property as the plan devised by ADR and the commissioners is to get funding for the whole Millwood sewer project by connecting it to the existing one in Howard. The easiest route between Millwood and Howard, in terms of procuring easements for the sewer line, is to follow the old railroad bed, which enters Millwood on Lemmons’ property.
Preacher David Jones of the Millwood Church of Christ isn’t opposed to the sewer system, but said he couldn’t spare the space required for a lift station to propel sewage under the creek on Bridge Street. Jones said he typically sees 200 cars jostling for limited parking every Sunday. A lift station would take a significant chunk of space out of the church parking lot.
Initially, Carr proposed pushing the lift station farther south, to straddle the line of the adjacent property, but examination of the site showed it would require drilling through solid rock and possibly destroying several trees the adjacent property owner wished to preserve.
Jones asked if the church could simply be left off the sewer system. Brian Benick of the Knox County Health Department, who joined the tour at the church, expressed doubts about how well the church’s 1963 sewage system was likely to keep doing in the future. Carr said a new leach bed system would cost more than it would cost to install a lift station.
Benick was in favor of avoiding those options and proposed petitioning the state for permission to install an aerial line running along the bridge itself, as a natural gas line does.
“There’s plenty of fall there for a gravity line,” Benick said, referring to the downward slope of the ground.
Knox County Commissioner Allen Stockberger agreed.
“I think we need to bar this one [lift station],” Stockberger said, referring to the idea of using an aerial line. “It makes sense, it’s practical for the church, it’s good for the aesthetics of the area, and avoids boring through solid rock.”