Highland & Getwell Pump Station & Force Main

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The City of Memphis was approached by developers desiring to construct a high-rise residential complex on Highland Avenue, just west of the University of Memphis (U of M) campus. This development would have adversely impacted the already overtaxed sewer system. The sewer system, because of its age, the surrounding dense urban development, and filter backwash from the Sheahan Water Pumping Station operated by Memphis Light Gas & Water (just east of the U of M campus), experienced periods during the day when the system was overloaded. Because of the sewer system capacity problems, the Sheahan Pumping Station could only backwash filters during the early morning hours to avoid overloading the existing sewer system. Likewise, the proposed residential high-rise development along Highland Avenue could not move forward unless a solution to the sewer system overload conditions could be found.

The obvious solution to the overloading problem seems easy – install a new sewage pumping station and force main which would pump to an existing sewer with adequate capacity to handle the excess flow. The “simple” solution was more complex than it seemed because the closest available sewer with the capacity to handle the Sheahan Pumping Station backwash and the new residential high-rise was approximately two miles south of the U of M campus. Due to the fact that the U of M is in the heart of Memphis and is completely surrounded by very tightly developed residential and commercial area, with heavily traveled major streets, installation of a new force main without significant impacts to traffic and the environment is a real challenge, both for design and construction.

The engineers at A2H were hired by the City of Memphis Division of Public Works to develop a plan to alleviate the overloaded condition of the sewer system in the U of M area. A2H met this challenge with an innovative approach: install the force main from the new pumping station on the Sheahan property within the existing concrete-lined storm water channel, known as Black Bayou. A review of aerial photographs revealed that the Black Bayou storm water channel is nearly a straight line from the proposed location of the pumping station to the existing sewer suitably sized to handle the increased flow. This route avoided the disruption of traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian. Accordingly, A2H proposed to the City of Memphis that the force main be installed in the concrete-lined Black Bayou.