If you see smoke rising from the rooftops, don’t assume it’s a fire. SAWS is using nontoxic smoke to test the wastewater system over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.
Smoke testing is part of SAWS’ ongoing effort to protect the quality of our Edwards Aquifer drinking water. The testing area is mainly along the Loop 1604 corridor between Helotes and Live Oak on the North and Northwest Side.
SAWS has hired a contractor, Burgess & Niple, Inc., to carry out the testing. Here’s how it works: Crews drop a nontoxic smoke flare down a sewer manhole. If there’s a leak, smoke will escape and come up through the ground. If the leak is on private property, the spot is flagged and the home or business is notified.
Smoke may also be seen coming from sewer vents on top of homes and businesses. That’s normal — even if there’s no leak.
The SAWS contractor will notify residents a few days before testing begins. Customers do not need to be home, but pets may need to be secured if contractors need to enter a fenced yard to flag a leak or access a manhole.
While the testing will be carried out by independent contractors, SAWS will oversee the process to ensure all regulations are followed. All workers will wear uniforms and carry identification badges.
To learn more visit saws.org/smoke.