Public Works explains sewage disaster - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Public Works explains sewage disaster

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  There is new information on that problem that filled two northwest Albany homes with raw sewage, and a warning from Public Works that without your help, it could happen again.

As city workers worked to clear a blocked sewer line, a second blockage they weren't aware of, backed up into the homes. They say through February their calls for blockages will increase 25 percent because of what people are dumping and flushing into the system.

Albany Public Works gets about 3,000 calls a year for help with sewage problems. Often, they trace the problems back to grease. Grease dumped down a sink can quickly reduce the capacity of a pipe like this to one that is actually carrying the flow of a pipe this size.

Powell's "There's sewage throughout the house, where you don't see black sewage there's water,"

How does a mess like this happen? In the case on Forest Glen, public works crews successfully cleared a blockage between two points along Murray Hill.

"It creates a surge and the surge most of the time goes out through the line," said Phil Roberson of Albany Public Works.

In this case it, hit another blockage past the Powell and Freeneys that crews didn't see, sending the mess to the lowest point, their homes.

"It backed up through the line and it looks like, we're still investigating it, but it looks like that's what caused it to come up through the lines," said Roberson.

 "Like a fountain, Mt. VVesuvius" said Fred Freeney.

What causes the blockage, public works says often times it's what put down the kitchen sink.

"A combination of grease, because a lot of folks cook and then unfortunately putting stuff right down the drain, and not realizing what it does to the system, when it coagulates and becomes a solid, then it makes that 8 inch diameter pipe, a two inch diameter pipe," Roberson said.

This time of year it's compounded by the holidays and additional guests using the system. Two home owners, hope in the future others might think before they pour or flush.

"Some times you don't know you have a problem until you have a problem in a case like that we really don't have a history in this particular part of the basin with backups." 

Neighbors tell me this isn't the first time they've had trouble in this area, they made previous complaints about sewage in their yards and porches. Public Works will take a closer look at the neighborhood and are at least considering back-flow valves for these two homes.

Public Works admits upgrades are needed to the city's sewer system and has a sales tax option on next years ballot that would generate money to replace some of the sewer lines that are more than 50 years old.


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