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Creative Solutions to Frankfort Force Main Break Saves Time and Stress through Cooperation

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In October 2003 the Frankfort Sewer Department, in the course of doing routine sampling in support of their CSO Long Term Control Plan, discovered that a 14-inch diameter sewer force main had been broken and was discharging untreated wastewater into the Kentucky River. The exact cause of the breakage was unknown but was believed to have been caused by flood debris from a major storm that occurred in late summer 2003. Immediately upon discovering the break in the line, the pump station was shut down and the Kentucky Division of Water (KDOW) was notified. The Frankfort Sewer Department contacted FMSM Engineers requesting that they mobilize their Engineering Dive Team to investigate the situation.

The location of the break was Benson Creek immediately upstream of its discharge into the Kentucky River. (Benson Creek is a navigable tributary to the Kentucky River open to a high volume of pleasure craft.) Upon investigation, prior to underwater condition assessment, it was observed that the ductile iron force main had been completely severed and carried approximately 90 feet downstream, with the discharge end pointing into the Kentucky River. The estimated discharge volume over the period was 17 million gallons.

The Frankfort Sewer Department immediately explored temporary bypass pumping options that would have cost 15,000 to 25,000 per month. FMSM Engineers assisted in exploring other options to temporarily repair the line by running a HDPE line on the surface and across a State Highway Bridge while design of a permanent solution was being performed. The cost of the temporary line repair was approximately 20,000 and was completed in approximately 6 weeks.

The permanent solution consisted of plans to Directional Drill beneath Benson Creek in bedrock. The directional drilling option was chosen because it precluded the need for excavation in a navigable stream and the permitting and problems associated with open cut options. It is believed that there are savings in cost, time and permit chaos associated with the selected option.

This paper will explore the resultant proactive work done by the Frankfort Sewer Department including the underwater condition assessment of eight additional line crossings of the Kentucky River and Benson Creek. The paper will also discuss how a team effort (Kentucky Department of Transportation, KDOW, City of Frankfort Public Works and Frankfort Sewer Department) at problem resolution resulted in immediate cost savings, water quality improvement and a reduction in stress. This paper will also address lessons learned from the catastrophe.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2006

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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