The Urban County Government plans to build two 77½ -foot-tall wastewater tanks along Town Branch in northwest Lexington as part of an effort to stop sewage overflows during storms.
Each tank is to be 260 feet in diameter and big enough to hold 22 million gallons of rainwater and waste until it can be treated by the Town Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant, which sits between Leestown Road and Old Frankfort Pike, just inside New Circle.
The $102 million project represents a major portion of a larger, $600 million effort to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows. The city signed a legal agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to repair its stormwater and sanity sewer systems in 2011, five years after the EPA filed a lawsuit against the city for allowing too much raw sewage to seep into creeks and out of manholes and pump stations after storms.
The city plans to award a construction contract in October, with work finishing two years later.
There also are plans to build two 20 million-gallon tanks at the city's West Hickman Wastewater Treatment Plant in northern Jessamine County off Tates Creek Road. That project is in the preliminary design phase, said Vernon Azevedo, project engineering coordinator for the city's Division of Water Quality.
Mark York, spokesman for the Lexington Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works, said the tanks along Town Branch will hold waste only when it rains.
"When we have a storm event, that water is getting into our sanitary sewer system," York said. "Rainwater definitely shouldn't be there."
York blames leaky pipes and breaks in lateral lines on private property for many flaws in the city's sanitary sewer system, although city-owned pipes also are leaking.
Originally, the city had planned to build three rectangular tanks, each about 35 feet high, on a lot close to the Town Branch treatment plant, but that plan was scrapped to save money and time. Among other things, that plan would have required a large amount of material to be excavated and moved to the Old Frankfort Pike landfill.
The reworked design is expected to save the city more than $20 million, but the resulting structures will stand twice as high.
Still, Azevedo said, the tanks should not be an eyesore to neighbors, which include hundreds of apartments, dozens of homes and several businesses in the Townley Park development off Leestown Road.
"Unless they're driving on New Circle, I don't think anyone will even notice (the tanks)," he said.
Plans call for decorative lighting to be added to the tanks.
Azevedo also said residents and businesses don't need to worry about odor problems from the enclosed wastewater tanks.
Parts of the existing Town Branch plant are open-air, so they do emit an odor occasionally, Azevedo said.
Chad Little, owner of 421 Motors at Leestown and South Forbes roads, said he's not concerned about the project becoming an eyesore or fouling the air.
"It'll help the community and it might even look kind of cool," Little said.