The city sewage line that discharges into Crane Creek (Photo courtesy of McClam & Associates)

Improvements to the North Columbia Pump Station and Crane Creek Lower North Branch are officially in the works. 

The projects are designed to address the city’s outdated sewer lines that discharge into waterways.

The bidding package for construction was submitted in October 2022. Columbia City Council has had several discussions about the projects for a while. 

Both projects are scheduled to break ground in Spring 2023. 

The city routinely replaces aging lines or upgrades the size of lines in high-growth areas. But it’s also working under the oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency as it makes more urgent repairs.

Of greatest concern are heavy rains that sometimes cause leaks of treated water into area creeks that drain into the waterways, both from city lines and lines owned by privately owned water companies.

Crane Creek Lower North Branch capacity

Crane Creek is located in Blythewood, roughly 20 to 30 minutes north of Columbia.

 The city is planning to replace the 18-inch sewer line with a 36-inch diameter sewer line. 

The Columbia Water Department’s Clint Shealy said the reason for replacing the system’s pipes to make sure they last for decades. 

And “before we invest in replacing large sections of pipes, we want to make sure that pipe is adequately sized for the next 10, 20, 30 years,” said Shealy, director of utility operations for the city. “While we’re investing, we’re upsizing that particular asset to make sure it can carry afloat in the future.”

The $7.5 million renovation project is being funded through the City’s Wastewater Capital Improvements Project, according to the city’s website. 

One of the project’s main objectives is to replace five manholes as a result of conditional assessments. This will help increase the capacity of the sewer lines by replacing an older, smaller line with a new, larger line.

North Columbia Pump Station

The plan for the North Columbia Pump Station near Broad River Road is to improve Columbia’s water in that area for the next 10 years, according to City Council.

The $3.2 million cost is being funded through the City’s Wastewater Capital Improvement Projects. The money will used on improvements at the North Columbia station, while Columbia Water is working on relocating the station long term.

The city later will build a new and larger pump station in North Columbia with the additions of two new wastewater pumps and a new generator, along with several smaller improvements. 

There is a sewage treatment pump station located near the Heathwood Hall private school south of Columbia that handles the water discharge coming from both the north and West Columbia areas. Its main goal is to pump the water from huge sewage lines to the nearby treatment plant.

“We are probably nine to 10 years into a 10-year project on meeting the EPA requirements,” said at-large city Councilman Howard Duvall. “The city spends about $120 million a year on capital improvements projects like this, according to the capital improvement plan.”

Residents who live near the North Columbia Pump Station have complained about the odor that lingers in the summer. Duvall said that there is a strong stench in the air coming from the system when it gets hot outside..

There is no scheduled completion date as of yet.

Both projects are estimated to take a little over a year and a half to complete. The City Council will discuss further details at its next scheduled meeting Feb. 28.

The project map of Crane Creek and the areas around it (Photo courtesy of Columbia’s Clean Water 2020 website)

The project map for the North Columbia Pump Station, near the Broad River (Photo courtesy of Columbia’s Clean Water 2020 website)

Columbia City Hall, where members of City Council meet (Photo by P.J. Williams)