DPW to Start Proactive Sewer Lateral Program

DPW to Start Proactive Sewer Lateral Program

9,000 locations to be addressed over five years

July 29, 2014 (BALTIMORE, MD)—As part of a concerted effort to reduce sewer backups, Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Rudolph S. Chow, P.E., today announced a proactive initiative to investigate and address problematic locations. Specifically this program will examine and, if necessary, repair or replace 9,000 smaller sewer connection lines known as laterals.

Most of the sewer laterals in the City were installed at the time the original residences were constructed; on average, 80 years ago. Over time, some of these sewer laterals cracked, developed separated joints, or experienced blockages from tree roots entering through cracks or offset joints. This deterioration has led to lateral blockages, and in some instances, sewage backups into basements.

The laterals chosen for this project have had a history of backups and/or blockages dating back to 2008 and no record of being repaird. These lines will be examined by inserting cameras through the exterior sewer cleanouts, where available, or through the public connections where a cleanout is not available. Based on what the investigations find, possible corrections may include point repair, lining, replacement, root control, or routine cleaning of the public portion of the line.

If private-side repairs are needed, Baltimore City will provide residences with a letter notifying them of the observed defect. Private property owners are responsible for the condition of the laterals and the associated cleanout on their side of the property line.

The backlog of work is expected to take five years to complete, but the program will be ongoing to address new problems as they arise. It will be conducted neighborhood by neighborhood, with the first work being done in the Idlewood neighborhood in North Baltimore in August. Letters will be mailed to the addresses to be examined approximately 30 days in advance. These will be followed by hang tags on doors to notify the customer after the investigation has taken place. A follow-up letter will be mailed to addresses outlining which corrective steps may be undertaken and when those will occur.

During the investigation phase, disruptions to the customers should be minimal. For laterals that are found to be in need of repair, the customer may have to refrain from water use for a few hours while DPW contractors perform the work. Any excavation will be seeded and/or paved to restore it to its original condition.

The DPW will monitor these properties to measure the success of the program. It is expected that this work will greatly reduce sewer backup problems and provide a healthier environment for our citizens.

The sewer lateral program is just one of many measures the City is undertaking to improve Baltimore’s wastewater conveyance system. The DPW is in the construction phase of the $1.5 billion Wastewater Consent Decree program to upgrade and replace Baltimore’s sewer mains.

DPW’s Tree Root Control Program is now in its eighth year. Of the 6,028 sewer segments that have had one or more root treatments, only 2.8 percent have experienced a sewer line choke within two years of the treatment.

One of the major causes of sewer backups is FOG (fats, oils and grease). DPW’s Environmental Services Division has aggressively taken on the problem of FOG in our sanitary sewer lines through education and enforcement. Extensive evaluation of commercial food preparation establishments began in November 2013 to make sure that these had proper wastewater discharge permits, grease control devices and regular maintenance of these devices. Homeowners are also encouraged to keep FOG out of the sewer pipes by pouring warm grease into a disposable can instead of down the drain.

To learn more about these programs and other proactive work being done on our water, wastewater and stormwater systems, please visit www.cleanwaterbaltimore.org.

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