Company probes conditions of sanitary and storm sewer manholes in Springfield

A company from Elgin, Illinois will be on the northeast side of Springfield this week to assess the condition of the sanitary and storm sewer manholes.

The work follows an administrative order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued against the city in 2013 after it documented sanitary sewer overflows.

Overflows, or SSOs, violate federal water quality law.

The process underway this week will not affect sewer operation and there will be no service interruptions at any time, according to a city news release.

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Tim Sumner, project engineer and manager of Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc., said Duke’s Root Control Inc. will use a 360-degree camera to uncover the types of defects that occur inside manholes.

CMT was hired by the city to handle the investigation. CMT first became involved in 2015 to help prepare a plan in response to the US EPA administrative order.

Work will take place in a pilot area that includes Sangamon Avenue to the north, 22nd Street to the east, Ridgely Avenue to the south and 19th Street to the west.

Tim Sumner

“We’re going to do an intense system-wide evaluation in this pilot area and see what works and doesn’t work so we can apply those lessons to the rest of the (wider northeast study area)” , Sumner said.

According to a public presentation Sumner made last month at St. Aloysius School, the pilot area includes some 424 plots.

DED occurs when there is so much water in the sanitary sewer system that it is overloaded, Sumner explained. Hydraulic pressure buildup blows manhole cover lids in some situations and can back up sewage into residents’ basements, he added.

The northeast part of the city has a history of sewer overloading and basement backups, Sumner noted in his presentation.

To alleviate the problem of basement backups, the city’s Office of Public Works used to pump out the manholes during heavy rains, sending that water to a tributary of Spring Creek.

This practice is no longer allowed, Sumner said.

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Sanitary sewer systems are aging, Sumner admitted, with most being over 50 years old, though some approaching 70 to 75 years old.

There are other issues with the sewer system: potential cracks in the pipe, broken connections and connections from residents’ sump pumps, Sumner authorized.

Crews from CMT and other companies, Sumner said, have traveled to the area.

CMT inspects private properties for downspouts and area drains connected to sanitary sewers, he said.

The city’s sewer division cleans and inspects sanitary and storm sewers. Midwest Engineering and Testing is installing four monitoring wells to measure groundwater levels between curbs and curbs.

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Petersburg Plumbing & Excavating performs smoke testing and dye water testing on sewers, as well as inspections on residences with basements, while Hoerr Construction inspects sewer laterals.

The data collected from the survey, Sumner said, will help predict what combination of public and private ownership fixes will be sufficient to eliminate SSO. It will also determine whether the repair and rehabilitation of defects and the disconnection of clean water sources used in the pilot area can be applied to the rest of the study area.

Work is expected to continue until mid-2023. Another public meeting will be held next summer before CMT submits its pilot area investigation report to the US EPA in October 2023.

Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, [email protected], twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.