ReWa Announces Dig Greenville $46M Sewer Project to Ensure Capacity for the Next Century

Monday, November 28th, 2016

The largest ever underground tunnel project in Greenville history will launch next year as part of Renewable Water Resource’s efforts to create a long-term solution to the region’s sewer and development needs.

Dig Greenville is a wastewater conveyance project that will feature a roughly one-mile long gravity sewer tunnel that will be 100 feet below ground spanning from Hudson Street to Cleveland Park, said Graham W. Rich, the agency executive director. This $46 million project will not affect sewer rates since ReWa performs rate studies and incorporates future capital planning needs in these plans.

“This is an exciting project for ReWa and Greenville,” Rich said.  “This is like no other project in Greenville history and we are excited to be leading the way.”

Rich said ReWa announced the plans today despite physical work not starting for many months because it wants to be a good community steward.

“ReWa believes in sharing and working with the community,” he said. “We plan to create social media and web pages dedicated to the project; share information at town hall meetings; speak to community groups; engage the media and give updates via newsletters.”

The current system for the Reedy River Basin, which affects downtown Greenville all the way to Travelers Rest, is nearing capacity, Rich said. If nothing is done, economic development would grind to a halt because nothing could be added to the sewer lines. This project will be able to handle the basin’s needs for the next 100 years.

While the project is a long-term fix, Dig Greenville also will be meeting immediate needs by providing an increased buffer against sewer surcharges due to inflow and infiltration during rain events.  

A gravity sewer tunnel conveys wastewater without the use of mechanical equipment, ReWa project manager Jason Gillespie said. The wastewater upstream of downtown Greenville will drop down a shaft approximately 100 feet to the tunnel, and then flow by gravity to the existing sewer system in Cleveland Park. ReWa initially evaluated eighteen project alternatives and studied in detail three project approaches.  The tunnel design was selected because it features the lowest life-cycle cost and the least impact on the public. 

“We started the design phase earlier this year and will be completed by May 2017. Actual construction will take approximately 30 months and will start in late 2017,” Gillespie said.

Very few areas of Greenville will be affected by construction, Rich said. There will be a staging area near Hudson Street and the Reedy River and a staging area near Cleveland Park.  

ReWa will use state-of-the-art equipment for geotechnical monitoring, Rich said. “We will work with the City of Greenville and SCDOT to develop traffic control plans for pedestrians and vehicles. Each staging area will be properly secured and fenced to keep the general public away from the construction activities.”

Blasting of rock will occur at each end of the tunnel.  The blasting is projected to be done during the first twelve months of the construction project. Blasting occurs in shorts bursts. People and businesses near blasting sites will be given plenty of warning.  The tunnel itself is constructed without blasting by utilizing a tunnel boring machine which cuts the rock as it moves along the tunnel alignment.

“As this project unfolds, we want all of Greenville to be excited,” Rich said. “Our first priority is letting the people of Greenville know what is happening.”