Study aims to find holes in system

Published 8:20 pm Saturday, July 26, 2014

A $35,000 grant from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources will pay for a study to root out any problems in Washington’s wastewater collection system.

The Technical Assistance Grant (TAG), to be used for an Inflow and Infiltration (I and I) study, was applied for in April. Earlier this month, Washington City Council members voted to accept the grant.

The I and I will pinpoint leaks through visual inspection — a process that has already started — as well as smoke tests, in an effort to cut down on any leaks allowing groundwater to seep into the sanitary sewer system. Smoke testing involves blowing smoke and air into sewer lines, where it will follow the path of least resistance, escaping through the areas that allow ground- or surface-water inflow.

The measure is cost-saving in nature, according to Brian Alligood, Washington’s city manager.

“The more (water) we have to treat, the more it costs us,” Alligood said.

Alligood said technicians will be looking for any breaches in the system, including old lines that have been cut off and outdated clay pipes that may have eroded or cracked. The focus will be on Subbasin 11 at 13th and Bridge streets.

While the city has been inundated with street flooding issues this year, Alligood said he and other officials are searching for a grant that will help them address the flooding. On June 13, Washington’s stormwater drainage system was unable to keep up with an extremely heavy rainfall that happened over a short period of time, causing many streets to flood. The result was vehicles and motorists stranded on certain streets throughout the city. It’s a recurring problem, but also an expensive proposition to fix, Alligood said.

“We are trying hard to find a grant to help with stormwater,” Alligood said.

Editor’s Note: On July 16, the original article about Washington’s TAG grant, “Grant to help city drainage issues,” contained incorrect information implying the grant would pay for a study on Washington’s stormwater drainage issues. We are happy to set the record straight.