Week of raw sewage on Ventnor streets: Leak finally plugged
Progress continues on repairs to a sewer pipe that sent raw sewage onto the streets of Ventnor City on Sunday.
Installation of a bypass connection is expected to be complete by late Friday, according to the Atlantic County Utilities Authority. Once activated, it will stop the flow of sewage onto the street. Additional work will continue for as many as four weeks.
"We're focused on getting this thing solved as quickly as possible. The patch that had to be installed on a live force main came from Texas. They have to be specially fitted and designed and fabricated to fit this kind of pipe at this location," utility spokesman Rick Dovey told us.
Dovey said that there may have been pile driving going on in the area over the past few weeks that caused the break.
"We don't know that yet because until Saturday we won't really have access," Dovey said.
Dovey disputed comments by Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club New Jersey, who said speculated that the pipe was old and not maintained.
"It was not a combined sewer system. It is not a 50-year-old pipe. It's a 25-year-old pipe. And we do have an asset maintenance program. It was a steel pipe installed in the 70s. It leaked 25 years ago," Dovey said.
The break in the main caused flooding in the area of Wellington Avenue. Pumps were installed to take sewage off the street and two jet-vacuum trucks cleaned residue from the street. Clean, pressurized water was used to wash the roadways and sidewalks. Streets completed on Thursday included Victoria, Surrey, Somerset, Oxford, and Dudley avenues.
The same equipment was used to clean the storm drain system along the southeast side of Wellington Avenue on Friday. The Department of Environmental Protection recommended and authorized the standing water to be discharged into the bay until the bypass is complete, according to Dovey.
Testing of water at six locations on Tuesday came back showing an elevated level of bacteria exceeding acceptable thresholds in three of the six locations.
A DEP ban on shellfish harvesting from the Lakes Bay area remains in place until this area can be cleared as safe for shellfish harvesting.
Dovey said the city of Ventnor, the DEP and the Atlantic County Health Department have been "terrific partners" during the process of cleaning up and fixing the leak.