Thursday, 18 July 2024

County conducts smoke testing on sewer collection system

Smoke testing of the Southeast Regional Wastewater Collection System is taking place in Clearlake and Lower Lake, Calif. Photo courtesy of Lake County Special Districts.




CLEARLAKE – In an effort to improve the Southeast Regional Wastewater Collection System, Lake County Special Districts reported this week that it's conducting smoke testing on sections of the system.

The agency, which provides water service and wastewater treatment in many areas of Lake County, said it has so far completed several weeks of smoke testing for 200,000 lineal feet of the sewer collection system in sections of Clearlake and Lower Lake.

Testing involves use of non-toxic liquid smoke that leaves no residual and pinpoints potential leaks in sewer lines. Leak detection and subsequent repairs may have a significant impact on minimizing spills next winter.

Miksis Services Inc. specializing in leak detection, and Special Districts crews are introducing smoke under pressure into manholes.

“Smoke is introduced into the system approximately every 400-800 feet,” said John Thompson, Special Districts systems compliance coordinator.

“If there is a leak in the sewer line including service lateral, smoke will appear out of the ground,” he explained. “Smoke is also visible where there are leaks such as private cleanouts that are open and not capped properly. We’ve seen many cleanouts that are not capped off.”

Another common problem detected is rain gutters and roof vents that are illegally connected to the cleanout to avoid flooding yards, Thompson said. All these holes contribute to excess rain water entering the collection system.

Additionally, if a building waste drain system is faulty, smoke may appear in the building, Thompson said.

“It’s difficult to quantify the exact savings resulting from smoke testing but we do know that any preventive measures taken now will reduce inflow the amount of storm water treated at the wastewater treatment plant,” said Thompson. “This method of regular inspection ensures continued proper operation of the collection system.”

In addition, homeowners are encouraged to do their part.

That includes inspecting the rain gutters on your house to see if the downspout connects to a sewer line.

Such connections are illegal. If the gutter downspouts are connected to the sewer line, have them disconnected – the large amount of water from the roof can cause a sewage spill. The rainwater needs to be directed onto your lawn and/or to the storm drain system.

Also, look for and check your sewer cleanout. The cleanout is usually a small pipe, about 4 inches in diameter, outside your house that is used to access the sewer lateral for cleaning. You will normally find it near the house (where the sewer lateral comes out) and/or near the property line (where the sewer lateral connects to the main sewer line).

Make sure the cap to the cleanout pipe is not missing and has not been damaged – such as by a lawn mower. Replace missing caps so that rainwater cannot get into the sewer line.

Check to see that outdoor patio, deck or yard drains are not connected to the sewer. Also, be sure that pool or pond overflow drains are not connected to the sewer. These connections are not allowed by the Lake County Sewer Use Ordinance.

“Special Districts is appreciative of the cooperation shown by the community during the testing which will resume over the next few days in the Clearlake and Lower Lake area,” Thompson said. “Residents are taking an active interest while observing the procedure, asking questions and taking time to explore potential corrective actions on their property.”

Any individuals with questions about smoke testing of sewer lines are encouraged to contact the administrative office at 707-263-0779.

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