Borough takes a closer look at sewer problems

| 22 Feb 2012 | 07:54

    Video cameras will help Sussex to identify infiltration areas, By Tom Hoffman SUSSEX - Sussex Borough is going high-tech in its efforts to tackle the infiltration and inflow (I&I) problems that have been taxing its sewer operations. Whenever there’s a heavy rain, large volumes of rainwater enter seams in the borough’s wastewater system and the town ends up being penalized by the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority (SCMUA) for surpassing its allotted wastewater flow. Suspecting that its I&I problems stem beyond rainwater issues, the borough’s Department of Public Works recently hired New Jersey Water Association of Waretown to videotape sections of its sewer system in the Clove Lake section of town. Portions of the video recording, which DPW supervisor Jeff Card displayed at the Jan. 20 Sussex Borough Council meeting, showed steady streams of fresh water flowing through the sewer pipes where the taping occurred. The videotaping was conducted in manholes along Linden Street, Holly Street, Willow Street and Lakeshore Drive. Borough councilman Ed Meyer said the videotaping was conducted more than a week after the borough’s last “significant” rainfall. That suggests that spring water, residual rainwater or other groundwater sources are infiltrating the borough’s sewer system. Borough engineer Michael Simone estimates that some 50,000 gallons of fresh water are entering the town’s 100 or so manholes on a daily basis. Based on those estimates, Meyer calculated the cost of that water infiltration at about $80,000 a year extra that the borough is unnecessarily paying SCMUA. And that doesn’t include penalty fees, he said. Fixing the problem Sussex Borough is hoping to apply part of a $400,000 grant it received from the state to address its I&I problems, said Mayor Christian Parrott. Card said the DPW has identified 65 “problem manholes” in the borough which need to be addressed. The good news, said Card, is that manhole repairs, which can include re-alignment, resealing or outright replacement, are cheaper than repairing an entire sewer line. “These aren’t complicated fixes,” said Card. Parrott said the borough may end up building swales to absorb groundwater that may be redirected from the sewer system as a result of the repair work. Before any work is done on the manholes, the borough plans to hire New Jersey Water Association to videotape other suspected problem areas in the Lakeview Terrace section of town, where clear water has also been detected entering the town’s sewer system, said Card. The cost to pay New Jersey Water Association to operate a robotic camera in the sewer pipes during an eight-hour period is $350 since the borough is a member of the association, said Card. The cost to pay a private contractor to videotape the sewer lines for an eight-hour period would be in the $1,200 to $1,800 range, he said.