Sewer Smoke-Testing Expanded Over the Recharge Zone
Sewer system maintenance reducing overflows across SAWS system by 85 percent
San Antonio Water System today awarded four contracts to continue smoke-testing sewer laterals at more than 52,000 properties over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. SAWS kicked off the program on the northeast side earlier this summer, and will smoke-test all properties over the recharge zone throughout the remainder of the year.
"The smoke testing program allows SAWS to identify leaks in private sewer lines that need to be addressed," said Val Ruiz, SAWS Vice-President of Distribution & Collection Operations. "This program is one part of a larger effort to maintain and update our wastewater infrastructure, protecting water quality in the Edwards Aquifer."
SAWS continues to improve the operation of its wastewater system and reduce sewer overflows through a variety of proactive programs. From a peak of 80 sewer overflows in February 2010, SAWS has reduced these incidents by 85 percent to twelve overflows in July 2011.
Crews proactively clean more than 900 miles of wastewater pipes every year to prevent blockages. In addition, SAWS has deployed more than 50 flow monitoring devices to help prevent sewer spills. Flow monitors detect when wastewater levels begin to rise within the pipes or even detect when a when a manhole cover is removed, allowing crews to respond quickly and prevent harmful spills.
Grease is a major cause of blockages. SAWS works continuously to prevent grease problems by encouraging residents and businesses not to "feed the Grease Monster." Earlier this year, San Antonio City Council approved a revised fats, oils and grease (FOG) ordinance that strengthens requirements for commercial businesses that generate grease, helping to reduce the impact of these wastes on the sewer system.
In the smoke testing program, SAWS contractors use smoke to locate breaks and defects in the sewer system, including those in sewer laterals of homes and businesses. The contractor isolates portions of sewer mains and fills the pipe with a non-toxic smoke. Sewer lateral leaks are identified by locating spots where smoke is escaping out of the lateral and coming up through the ground.
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