The Block Island Times
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Sewer discusses smoke testing lines

By Stephanie Turaj | Dec 27, 2012

The Sewer and Water commissions focused on technology upgrades, routine maintenance and the possibility of smoke testing the sewer collection system at their meeting Dec. 17.

The Sewer Commission had a preliminary discussion about smoke testing the sewer collection system. This means that workers would place liquid non-toxic smoke down a manhole and push the smoke through the sewer system. If smoke came out of certain areas, that could suggest that a pipe is cracked or a resident is improperly hooked up to the sewer system.

"The last time this was done was 10 years ago," said Sewer Superintendent Chris Blane. "It's really enlightening. It shows illegal connections; it shows cracked pipes."

The commission discussed the time frame and cost. Smoke testing is usually done in the off-season, explained Blane, and after proper advertising. A smoke generator could be purchased or rented, he said. Sewer Chair Peter McNerney noted this procedure is also performed elsewhere, including major areas such as downtown Providence.

The commission discussed how it would enforce any repairs if violations are found. Commissioner Steve Draper said that last time the smoke testing had been performed, not all repairs were enforced.

The Sewer Commission approved a motion to develop a procedure for smoke testing. The testing would possibly be performed between April and June.

McNerney reported that he had an informational conversation with a computer company about networking, storage of information and computer needs. Currently the two plants are backing up data to backup disks, and there has been discussion on whether the plant should back up information to the internet. McNerney said that the company would come up with suggestions that the commissions could later discuss.

Town engineer Jim Geremia sent a letter to the commission reporting the status of Sewer Plant projects: work on the generator exhaust stack is completed, the operations building roof is completed, and much of the electrical modifications to the Sewer Plant have been completed.

The commissions awarded a bid to perform furnace/boiler service at the Sewer and Water plants to Raymond Reynolds, the only bidder.

Water and Sewer Financials

Town Finance Director Amy Land reported that water commission user fees in November were $10,036. Total revenues are $363,373 so far this year.

The sewer commission earned $12,139 in user fees during November, which was under the monthly budgeted amount of $15,543. However, the sewer commission's total revenue is ahead of last year, at $850,937.

"There's room for a little bit of slow down over the winter, but not a lot," Land said.

Water and Sewer operations report

John Breunig, probationary water superintendent, delivered the water operations report for November. "We did have another leak on our concentrate line that was fixed in our front yard," he said. "It's also the third leak we've had in a five-month span."

He said that the water commission should keep in mind the possibility of replacing the problematic part of the concentrate line between the water plant and the Medical Center.

He also reported that the Corn Neck Road road construction "went pretty smooth."

Blane reported on sewer operations for November, saying that it was "quite a month." The sewer personnel went from cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy, to dealing with electrical failures and to repairing the leak on Ocean Avenue.

Two water plant employees, Dylan Chase and Christian Freund, passed their Class 2 Wastewater License tests. Blane commended their hard work, especially because the exams fell during the sewer leak repairs that occurred in late November.

User requests

The commissions voted to forgive $512 in penalties and sewer use to Marceline Mazzur on High Street, Plat 7, Lot 94. A plumber verified that there had been a water pipe leaking into the ground, and this water did not go through the sewer.

The commissions discussed a request by two residents of a High Street condominium association to install separate meters and open separate accounts for the two dwellings. Breunig said that the two parties have overdue bills, and the commissions have agreed to separate the accounts only after the overdue bills are paid.

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