Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sewer Line Failure Pollutes Lubber Run

Arlington County tells residents to stay out of the water.

Just before dawn this morning, a heavier-than-expected flow in a sewer line leading into Lubber Run Park hit and overwhelmed a sewer diversion plug, overflowing a manhole with raw sewage, and polluting the stream near Arlington Boulevard. Arlington County repaired the problem after the contractor, A.M. Liner East, Inc., called in the spill.

“The contractor called us right away,” said Myllissa Kennedy with the county’s Department of Environmental Services. “There still is an investigation going on as to why it happened.”

Residents are advised to keep themselves, their children and pets away from the stream for any activities including swimming, fishing and wading, the county advised in its press release. Although county officials say the problem has been repaired, and the county is working to clean as much of the sewage as possible, nature will have to do the final work, flushing the remaining sewage downstream.

It may take a week or more to return back to normal, depending on the weather.

“What they like to wait for is a couple of good rains,” before health inspectors check the water again, said Mary Curtius, a county spokesperson.

The county likely will absorb much of the cost for the clean-up as the problem was not intentional, and the contractor worked with county staff to fix the problem and clean-up the site at the time of the accident, Ms. Kennedy said.

Since late September, the contractor has been working on the sewer pipes, lining them with smelly, resin-soaked felt tubes, “similar to a sock.” Once the felt liner is in place, hot water activates the resin and the felt becomes a hard plastic, the county’s web site devoted to this project said.

The sewer diversion plugs send the waste through alternate pipes while one section of pipe is being repaired, Ms. Kennedy said.

According to one of the contracted employees, the liner is good for several decades.

The project, part of annual maintenance, is expected to take about a month.

An intentional spill of port-a-potties into Lubber Run occurred last June.

Related stories…

  • The county's press release regarding the spill.
  • Arlington's Sanitary Sewer System Web Site (including the special section on Lubber Run).
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