Officials with Canton Municipal Utilities, Warnock & Associates, and Utility Constructors Inc. circle a “floating manhole” on the west side of Canton.
Officials with Canton Municipal Utilities, Warnock & Associates, and Utility Constructors Inc. circle a “floating manhole” on the west side of Canton.
CANTON — Exposed storm drains, discarded iron piping, and floating manholes were just a few of the sights seen during a tour of Canton Municipal Utilities’ sewer system Tuesday as contractors continue work under an emergency sewer contract issued in October.

Officials with CMU and the city took a two-and-a-half hour tour Tuesday where representatives of Warnock & Associates, CMU’s engineering firm, pointed out failures of infrastructure found during a questionable months-long emergency sewer repair contract.

CMU hired Utility Constructors Inc. in October and authorized to spend $500,000 to clean and T.V. sewer lines throughout the city to assess problems.

Problems have been found in four of CMU’s lift stations, Jimmy Vickers, construction manager with Warnock & Associates, said. This results in sewage backing up and not being pumped out as designed.

Some “sags” have been found in lines, while others are broken, Vickers said.

In one instance, a CMU gas pipe was constructed thru a sewage line, blocking the flow.

Multiple floating manholes have also been discovered and were shown on Tuesday. Vickers said the concrete bottom is gone in those and raw sewage is leaking into the ground at those points. In other instances, the pipes beneath the manholes are clearly broken with sewage floating around.

Anderson Walker of 723 James Street showed officials multiple access points around his home where sewage backs up — rain or drought — all over his house and yard. In front of a dead flower bed, Walker lifted up a cast iron cover to reveal exposed waste waiting to be moved.

His twin three-year-old grandchildren were corralled around the yard as to not touch anything that had been contaminated by the raw sewage.

Vickers said even though that particular line has been blown out they believe there is a “sag” there. And city storm drains littered with trash and other debris only exacerbate the situation.

Most of the issues are found on the west side of the city. Vickers said that was the older side of town, and also where the infrastructure is the oldest.

There was discussion about what the next step would be for CMU to address the issues found, including the issuance of bonds by the utility company to fund repairs.

“On whether or not there will be a bond to finance infrastructure improvements there has been some discussion about it, but nothing has been determined as of yet,” CMU General Counsel Mike Espy said. “Whether or how much of a bond issue will entirely depend on the results of the emergency process now underway.”

He added, “Once we understand the extent of the improvements needed then a decision will be made by the CMU Commissioners as to how much should come from existing reserves and how much should go to debt and finance.”

CMU currently has approximately $13 million in reserves.

Espy said they are also exploring grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He said of $401 million allocated for facilities improvement grants, $40 million will come to Mississippi.

“Before a decision is made we will get an estimate of infrastructure improvement costs from the engineer and technical experts,” he said. “It’s too early now to attempt to estimate any bond costs. Currently, CMU has no debt, no outstanding bonds and no interest payments.”