The Block Island Times

Sewer leak closes pond again

Most recent Ocean Ave. overflow caused by debris
By Stephanie Turaj | Jan 06, 2013
Source: File photo

A month after a sewer leak on Ocean Avenue closed the Great Salt Pond to shellfishing, a second Ocean Avenue overflow occurred just west of the Block Island Grocery on Sunday, December 30, this time due to a blockage in the collection system.

As a precaution, the town closed Great Salt Pond to shellfishing on Sunday. Harbormaster Steve Land said on Thursday that water and shellfish tests would be performed within the next week.

Sewer officials pumped the overflow and removed debris such as rags, small rocks and pieces of wood from the sewer collection system. Less than 1,000 gallons of sewage spilled, Sewer Superintendent Chris Blane said in his report to the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

This issue is separate from the leak that occurred in November, said Blane. That leak involved a different pipe: a pressurized force main on Ocean Avenue.

Blane first heard that there was water emerging from the manhole on Ocean Avenue at about 12:45 p.m. Sunday. Officials were on the scene within 15 minutes and had the system back to normal within three hours.

"Everyone responded very well, very fast," said Blane.

Brown Septic Services pumped the sewage, while sewer personnel placed hay bales, with a sodium hypochlorite solution, around the Ocean Avenue storm drain that eventually leads into Harbor Pond via a small stream, Blane said in his DEM report.

The area was then washed down with chlorinated water, and any remaining liquid on the road froze. A request was made that the town road crew spread sand on the icy road, Blane continued in the report.

Costs for the repairs were limited to Brown Septic Services, which Blane estimated at about $1,400. He noted that this money was well spent, as pumping the sewage prevented it from entering the pond.

Blane also said that sewer personnel remain unsure of the source of the blockage, or if there is any remaining blockage elsewhere in the system.

Blane said that the Sewer Commission has plans to conduct a video inspection of the underground collection system to determine the status of the pipes. A video inspection would reveal any more blockages, obstructions or damage.

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