Smoke on the water

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

City receives $60,000 grant to help detect leaks

The city of Wheaton has been granted a $60,000 DNR grant to test its sewer system for leaks, which will include smoke testing and a camera through the system.

Josh Kinnaman, Wheaton utilities superintendent, said the city got the grant for $60,000, and the paperwork was started around May.

“It is a long process getting everything going,” he said. “We are still working on some of the paperwork.”

Kinnaman said as long as everything goes according to plan, testing could begin in October.

“Trekk Design Group is going to come in and do some smoke testing,” he said. “Basically, that is a big smoke bomb, and if there is a leak in the sewer system the smoke will show us where it is.”

Kinnaman said they will also use cameras that will be ran through the system.

“How far they can go with the cameras all depends on how much money we can use,” he said. “We did do a camera system about two years ago.”

Kinnaman said at that point, they looked at half of the sewer system in Wheaton.

“Our main concern now is to look at the other half,” he said. “We are getting a lot of storm water into our lagoon.”

Kinnaman said the plan right now is to focus on the half the city didn’t look at two years ago, but still try to do the whole system.

“We will have to see how far the money will go,” he said. “The $60,000 will only go into trying to find the problems, not into fixing them.”

Kinnaman said they will tell the city what is wrong, then the city will have to come up with more money to fix any issues found.

“Through the DNR grant we have five years to fix anything that is found,” he said. “At the moment, we really don’t know where the issues are, but we know that we are getting backed up on certain areas of the lower part of the sewer system.”

Kinnaman said the biggest problem for residents with storm water getting into the sewer system is backflow.

“The sewer lines are so full that some people could get backflow into their house,” he said. “Our pumps can’t keep up with pumping into the lagoon.”

Kinnaman said the city has put backflow devices on some houses to help keep that from happening.

“We have known that there has been an issue for a while,” he said. “We are trying to keep up with it as much as possible.”

Kinnaman said residents shouldn’t expect any disruptions during the testing.

“[That is] unless we see smoke coming up from their pipes,” he said. “In some cases, people have run the drains on their houses through the sewer lines.”

Kinnaman said that is obviously a big problem.

“That is a huge no, no,” he said. “But we have seen it happen before, then smoke starts coming up someone’s drain on their house.”

Kinnaman said if there is an issue like that, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to fix it.

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