CCWA working to maintain sanitary sewer system

The Clayton County Water Authority is currently using new technology to take a long, hard look at its sanitary sewer system in areas of the community where the infrastructure may be aged and more vulnerable to infiltration.

Morrow, Ga., Nov. 6, 2003 -- The Clayton County Water Authority (CCWA) is currently using new technology to take a long, hard look at its sanitary sewer system in areas of the community where the infrastructure may be aged and more vulnerable to infiltration.

This "look" is not quite as easy as it sounds, as CCWA officials are using several testing methods to help them identify and correct these potential "hot spots" in the sewer system. Should such an area worsen, it could lead to expensive repairs if any faulty sewer lines are not detected ahead of time.

Why is infiltration such a bad thing? According to CCWA officials, groundwater and stormwater infiltration into the sanitary sewer system eventually strains the Authority's ability to treat wastewater, and can lead to sewer overflows, which could end up inconveniencing more than 60,000 CCWA customers.

"Most importantly, infiltration causes problems at the treatment plants," says Charles Ecton, wastewater maintenance coordinator for the CCWA. "But also infiltration can lead to blockages and overflows, which cost the Authority and its customers a significant amount of money to repair."

With preventative maintenance the theme of the service project, employees are using smoke testing and closed circuit television cameras to view the pipes and identify potential points of infiltration. The results have been encouraging, and have given officials hope that these problems can be detected and fixed on a more consistent basis. The CCWA maintenance staff has already found potential infiltration points, and is in the process of working toward solutions. This early detection is key to preventing larger problems throughout the county

The area that is currently being targeted is a stretch of over 17,000 linear feet of eight-inch sewer near Georgia Highway 85 and Valley Hill Road. Sanitary sewer lines in this immediate area flow to the W.B. Casey Water Reclamation Facility, which has been operating near full capacity during rainy months, and is currently being upgraded to accommodate future growth in the area.

The CCWA has been undergoing aggressive testing and maintenance schedules for many parts of the Clayton County water and wastewater system for similar infiltration points.

Ecton says that sanitary sewer lines surrounding storm drains are the most easily affected, thus receiving a high priority tag by the authority. During heavy rains, water can overflow or leak from drains, exploiting small cracks in sewer lines. The same holds true for groundwater, which can eventually build up around the buried lines and seep into them.

The public can help, however, and the CCWA is asking its customers to please keep the Authority abreast of any potential problems or "hot spots" where infiltration may be occurring.

"We still feel it is necessary to focus on our overall wastewater treatment capacity, due to the current and future growth expected in the community," says Wade Brannan, general manager of the CCWA. "However, it is equally important for us to look at the maintenance and upkeep of our existing lines and facilities, which may be aging and in need of attention. We have new technology in place now that will help us, and the work going on in Riverdale provides an example of how we're benefiting from it."

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