HELEN - The City of Helen will proceed with the costly repair of a city sanitary sewer line on an eroded bank of the Chattahoochee River.
Fletcher Holliday of EMI updated the Helen City Commission on the matter Tuesday afternoon.
The affected streambank is located along the river behind Wilderforest Condos, across the river from Helen Waterpark.
"Essentially, there's roughly 250 linear feet of streambank that runs on the Chattahoochee River, and the city has a sanitary sewer line that runs parallel with that," Holliday said. "Over the period of the last 10 or 15 years, the bank has actually just eroded away and it's exposed that sewer line, so the sewer line's actually protruding out now into the river and eventually, over a period of time, that sewer line may possibly actually fracture and create a hazard."
Holliday gave the commission a couple of options, but said preliminary discussions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Georgia Environmental Protection Division has agreed that river rock-style rip rap can be used on the streambank restoration project.
While natural stone is more expensive than traditional rip rap, use of rip rap would require the city to buy streambank credits, Holliday said.
"Because it is the Chattahoochee River, a designated trout stream and the impact of that, with the sewer line there you just can't naturally jump in and start fixing things, so we've had a very time-consuming process of working with those agencies coming up with a solution to actually repair the sewer line," Holliday said.
Asked by city commissioners what the estimated price difference might be to buy credits allowing the city to use rip rap rather than natural stone, Holliday said the Corps estimated it could add an additional $100,000 to the project.
"Something's got to be done about it," said Mayor Judy Holloway.
Holloway said if the sewer line ever breaks, the "$10,000 a day fine adds up immediately."
EMI's Holliday estimated it will take another four to five months to get the necessary permits to work in the river to repair the riverbank.
City Manager Jerry Elkins said Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax proceeds will be used to pay for the project.
Commissioner Dona K. Burke made the motion to allow EMI to proceed with the work, with Commissioner Jeff Ask seconding. The motion passed unanimously.