TRA reports multiple wastewater spills from Elm Fork pipeline

The Trinity River Authority has experienced wastewater spills at two separate locations along a pipeline that runs parallel to the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.

ARLINGTON, Texas, Feb. 16, 2001 (PRNewswire_ -- The Trinity River Authority has experienced wastewater spills at two separate locations along a pipeline that runs parallel to the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.

Both wastewater spills are a direct result of storm water from recent heavy rain entering TRA's Elm Fork pipeline. How the large volume of storm water is able to enter the sealed pipeline is unknown and cannot be determined until water levels along the Elm Fork drop enough to allow a physical inspection of the sewer line.

Flows escaping the TRA collection system are no threat to any public water supplies and should not be able to reach the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. Wastewater and other storm water will be retained in nearby flood control facilities until storm waters recede and the pressure on the wastewater transportation and treatment facility are reduced. At that time the combined wastewater and storm waters will be pumped back into the TRA collection system for full and final treatment.

The first Elm Fork spill was discovered by TRA at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, February 16 adjacent to an industrial area in Irving. TRA experienced a structural failure in a 45-inch reinforced concrete wastewater pipeline on the dry side of the flood control levee on the west side of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River east of Texas Stadium. Wastewater is flowing from the line at an estimated rate of 24,000 gallons per hour.

The pipeline failure is attributed to the heavy rainfall experienced during the past several days and the resulting pressure it produced within the pipeline. This pipe is one of TRA's older pipelines. The age and condition of the line, combined with the high flows produced by storm water, caused the failure in this specific location.

TRA had a contractor on site within hours of discovering the line break. The line is 10 feet below the surface. Analysis of the magnitude of the break and the required emergency repair action is in progress.

The Authority discovered the second wastewater spill from TRA's Elm Fork pipeline at 2 p.m. on February 16 near the IH 635 intersection with Luna Road in Farmers Branch. In this situation TRA's overloaded pipeline flows into a large concrete junction box that is located on the side of a flood relief channel.

Flows coming into the junction box were of sufficient volume to hydraulically lift a 15,000 pound steel reinforced concrete slab that serves as a lid. Wastewater is flowing out around the edges of the concrete lid at an estimated rate of 60,000 gallons per hour. This wastewater is also being contained behind flood levees and is not entering the Trinity River. When flows in the pipeline decrease to more normal levels, the concrete lid will be reseated on the top of the junction box.

The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, the state agency that regulates wastewater treatment activities and also requires public notification for all wastewater spills expected to exceed 100,000 gallons, was advised of the wastewater spills immediately after they were discovered.

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