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Sanitary sewer inspections use smoke testing to maintain integrity of sewer system

Through the month of October, the city’s Public Works Department will smoke test the Sanitary Sewer Collection System in order to identify sources of storm water runoff or ground water intrusion entering the city’s sewage collection system.

This process is part of the city’s ongoing Inflow and Infiltration (I&I) Elimination Program of the Sanitary Sewer Collection System.  I&I occurs when groundwater and/or rainwater enters the sanitary sewer collection system, travels through pump stations and ends up at the wastewater treatment plant necessitating its treatment just as if it were waste water.  This additional volume of water imposes an unnecessary burden on the City treatment facility.  Elimination or reduction of this excess water in the collection system will help remove one of the causes for sewage overflows in the City and reduce the cost of sewage treatment.

Smoke Testing illustrationSmoke testing is one of the methods of identifying unwanted inflow and to a lesser degree infiltration into our sewer system.  In this case, where you see smoke it is not a fire, it is a potential source of I&I.

Materials used to generate the smoke are non-toxic, harmless, virtually odorless, and do not create a fire hazard, nonetheless every effort is made to alert the public when there is smoke testing in their area. Public door hanger notification distributed to residents and commercial areas approximately one to three days in advance. The door hanger describes testing and what should be done in advance to minimize smoke from entering buildings. Residents do not need to be home during the testing, and contact information will be provided on the door hanger in the event smoke does enter a building.

In the event smoke should enter a building, there is a chance smoke alarms may be activated. In such cases, rooms should be ventilated through an open window or door. Acute exposure can cause irritation of the respiratory system so occupants are urged to ventilate well to dissipate the smoke, leave the area if any irritation is experienced and use the contact information included on the door hanger to notify the authorities.

During this testing period, no road closures or utility outages are anticipated.  Because this testing covers entire sewer collection basins, it is not practical to list all streets affected or attempt to close streets to through traffic.  Testing will include all of the downtown area and the majority of Lincolnville.  Click the following links to view a map of the city’s collection basins and an overview of this project. 

For questions, contact the Public Works Department at 904.825.1040.