About 3,800 gallons of untreated sewage water was leaked in Verona last week due to a clog in one of the city’s sewage pipes.
Theran Jocabson, the director of public works for Verona, says the spill was caused by a grease buildup in one of the city’s inverted siphon sewer pipes. The city of Verona removed the clog last Monday and the state Department of Natural Resources was notified of the leakage, reports the Verona Press. Jacobson also said that there was no monetary cost for the spill as the removal was handled internally by Verona’s public works staff and equipment.
Tom Bauman is a natural resources basin supervisor for the DNR. He says that while this specific leak is not expected to pose a threat to the local environment, it depends on each spill’s specific circumstances.
“Each specific event is kind of unique in it’s own way, so it really is dependent on the case specifics: the location, volume, are there any sensitive areas nearby?”
Clogs like this can form over long periods of time and can have numerous causes. Hannah Mohelnitzky, spokesperson for the city of Madison’s engineering division, says clogs often form from homeowners unintentionally filling pipes with clogging agents that can build up and damage them over time.
“When you start getting into that private area, I’m sure residents are experiencing blockages that way, cause we all do that. We all put hair down the drain, things that they we may not realize are really going to be harming our pipes in the long run.”
Mohelnitzky says backups in the city of Madison public sewer system have fallen from hundreds annually to just the single digits over the course of the past five years thanks to the city’s preventative maintenance program. However, she also says that depending on where the clogs buildup, the responsibility can fall on homeowners themselves.
“Backups that happen in the public portion, the city covers the costs if there’s a blockage. If it pops up in the private portion, then that cost falls on the resident.”
Mohelnitzky also says that costs to building owners can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars and threaten environmental and public safety, and encourages the public to avoid flushing significant amounts of grease that becomes solid at room temperature, fat, paint and certain other substances that can clog private and public pipes.
The city of Madison’s website provides more information on how to avoid buildups and what portions of pipe that private homeowners are responsible for maintaining.
Reporting for W-O-R-T news, I’m Ryan Wollersheim
Editor’s Note: this story has been updated to include a comment from the Verona public works director.
(Image courtesy: WyldKyss on Flickr)