Leader Blues

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

TOP STORY > >Manhole contaminates creek

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

The rain that fell last week had sewer water spewing from a manhole beside a ditch where children play in the Cabot park on Richie Road, but that problem was remedied by cleaning grease from the sewer line.

To keep down such problems, Cabot WaterWorks has stepped up its inspection program for restaurants and is requiring that grease traps be cleaned before they dump their contents into the city sewer system.

Tim Joyner, general manager of Cabot WaterWorks said the manhole that one resident complained about last week to the mayor, his office and The Leader has overflowed in the past.

“That particular location has been a problem,” Joyner said. “But in every situation, it has been grease in the line. That particular line picks up the restaurants on Main Street.”

When too much water is combined with lines that are too small because they are clogged with grease, overflows happen, he said.

Joyner said workers cleaned the line that runs through the park and spread lime in the area of the overflow to kill any bacteria. The spill was minor, he said. If it had been worse, a vacuum truck would have been brought in to clean the contaminated area.

On Tuesday morning, following a night of steady rain, the ditch was running full and the lid to the manhole remained tight.
But that manhole is not the only one that overflows, he said. The city has an infiltration problem in the older part of the city caused by broken lines that allow rainwater into the sewer system.

Money to address the city’s infiltration problem was included in the bond issue supported by a one-cent city sales tax that also paid $15 million for the new wastewater treatment plant that has been in operation since December.

Joyner said engineers are currently working on plans to replace the concrete sewer lines in the older part of the city. The new treatment plant still needs finishing touches like roads, but Joyner said there could be as much as $2.5 million left over for new sewer lines.

Before construction began on the new sewer treatment plant, the city was fined $18,000 by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality because the water released from the old plant did not meet standards set by the state and federal governments.

Now, the commission that runs Cabot WaterWorks says they will have to address the infiltration problem if they expect to meet the expectations of the agency that keeps an eye on their operation