Invasion of the city sewer lines



One problem in deciding how much effluent can be treated in Taunton's wastewater treatment plant is finding out how much surface water is seeping into the lines and being treated unnecessarily.



And that challenge first was tackled 30 years ago. It may be recalled that with Joseph L. Amaral as mayor, Taunton set about then sending cameras through sewer mains to photograph for leakage from within and without.

It was a first step toward repairing or replacing the leaking sections. The city began disconnecting storm drains that were hooked into the sewer mains when they were installed. There were other ways of surface water entering the system, however.

A couple of years ago the city made the discovery that some homes had sump pump drains illegally connected to the city sewer system. These reportedly were disconnected, but it is suspected there are other homes with similar hook-ups, especially in neighborhoods with small house lots and poor drainage.

In negotiating a new contract with Raynham for use of the treatment plant, the city must determine how much of this "clean" water still is flowing into the plant. There is no telling how much money the city has spent needlessly, but the "invasion" has to be stopped.

Leaking mains, like the one last fall in the Mill River at Weir Street, is another genuine concern. Discovering how much piping must be repaired or replaced is expected to cost the city millions.

And with only 48 percent of the city sewered, payment for this project must come from the taxpayers - including the 52 percent on septic systems. The Sewer Division of the Department of Public Works, unlike the Water Division, is not self-sufficient.

The new contract being worked out with Raynham goes far deeper than how much capacity will be granted the town at the treatment plant. It's one reason why the contract talks have taken as long as they have. Settlement isn't expected for at least another three months.

ŠThe Taunton Gazette 2005