Sewer issues: Multiple factors led to backupsA combination of several circumstances led to a high level of sewage that caused backups into five homes on May 7, according to Reed Schwartzkopf, Jamestown city engineer. The backups occurred in southeast Jamestown and affected four or five homes. The city’s insurance is in the process of addressing the effects to the homeowners.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
A combination of several circumstances led to a high level of sewage that caused backups into five homes on May 7, according to Reed Schwartzkopf, Jamestown city engineer.
The backups occurred in southeast Jamestown and affected four or five homes. The city’s insurance is in the process of addressing the effects to the homeowners.
“Some of the circumstances were uncontrollable,” Schwartzkopf said. “Others could have been controlled.”
Principally, the incident started with high levels in the sewer system due to water infiltration caused by the high ground water. Schwartzkopf said the levels the city is seeing this year are second only to the sewer loads seen during the 2009 flood.
The problems were compounded when a subcontractor working on the East Business Loop project inadvertently damaged a section of the 30-inch sewer main that runs from Jamestown to the main lift station. While the repairs were made dirt may have entered the pipe causing a reduction in the flow of the sewage through the main.
“We really couldn’t figure out how they hit it,” Schwartzkopf said. “They were trying to drill dewatering wells but hit the 30-inch main.”
Dewatering wells are 15 to 20 feet deep wells. The water is pumped from the wells into the river to create a dry work area for the road construction project.
Then the problems were further compounded by the addition of two inlet hoses for pumps placed in the sewer main near the location of the original break.
“Apparently, these hoses and strainer assemblies were large enough to restrict the flow of sewage in the pipes,” Schwartzkopf wrote in a press release. “Resulting in partial blockage of the 30-inch main most likely by a combination of remaining sediments and solid waste materials.”
A pumped bypass pipe was added to the system to carry additional sewage around any problems on May 9.
Schwartzkopf said city personnel and workers for Sellin Brothers, the primary contractor for the East Business Loop project, have cleared any sediment from the sewer pipes and flows are running as normal given the high sewer levels the city is currently seeing.
“We want to leave the odd and even regulations in place because of infiltration,” Schwartzkopf said. “We’re still seeing about 7 million gallons per day.”
The city has requested the homes with even house numbers utilize appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines on even numbered days and homeowners with odd numbered houses use their appliances on odd numbered days. The program is an effort to spread the amount of water going into the sanitary sewer system evenly through the week.
“This is not a normal year,” Schwartzkopf said. “The corps plans on running high releases through Jamestown at least to the end of June or maybe middle of July. Even after that it will take a few weeks for the groundwater to go down to where it should be. We’re looking at high water tables for a good part of the summer.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org