REDINGTON SHORES — A complete rehab of the town’s sewer system that began three years ago is now well over half complete.

An update on the progress of the ongoing project was presented by Commissioner Jeff Neal at the Jan. 29 town commission workshop. Neal began the effort, which he calls “a proactive approach to preventive maintenance,” when he took charge of the aging and ailing sewer system in 2017.

Until then, Neal said, the approach was to “fix it when it breaks.”

“We decided to do a complete overhaul instead of addressing failures when we found them and correcting them,” Neal said. “The funding was in place, so we took the opportunity to redo the whole system.”

The cost of sewer failures is high, Neal said. Rainwater can infiltrate faulty sewer lines, causing residents to pay for processing water along with sewage, and their sewer bills can soar, Neal said.

The sewer system is huge, and its rehab has been a major job.

There are 27,000 linear feet of sewer pipe under the town, Neal said. That includes the mainline, the town-owned lateral lines that branch off and the private lateral lines to the individual houses.

“That’s over five miles of pipe to carry our sewage away,” Neal said.

The rehab process involves videotaping, inspecting, and cleaning the pipes, then relining them, which protects against water infiltration.

Renovation of the mainline sewer has been completed, Neal said. Work on the town-owned lateral lines, which Neal said “are in terrible shape,” is finishing up on the west side of town. Neal said infiltration was found in virtually all the laterals inspected so far, along with sediment and broken pipes.

Eight manhole covers “on the verge of failure” have been redone using the latest materials, Neal said.

The next step is to rehab the town-owned laterals in the areas on the east side of Gulf Boulevard. “We still have the laterals on the east side to do. There’s no telling what we’re going to find,” he said.

Privately-owned lateral lines that go from the road to the residences are the residents’ responsibility to maintain.

Rehabilitation of the town’s entire sewer system should be complete in another couple of years, Neal said.

As to funding, he said, “We seem to have the money in the budget to do it.” About a million dollars is in the sewer fund, and about half of that has been used so far.

“We have the money and we’re on budget,” Neal said.

Managing of the project in-house rather than using an outside project manager has resulted in a savings of $250,000 to $300,000, “and that’s something I’m most proud of,” Neal said.

He also said the sewer system will need ongoing attention.

“After we finish this, preventive maintenance of the sewer will still be needed,” Neal said. “As long as we have our sewer, we’ll be working on it.”

Neal added, “The state of our sewer system is much better than it was five years ago.”