[Updated] MDC Discovers Source of Blockage that Led to West Hartford Sewer Backup

An MDC contractor excavated the roadway in front of 55 Linbrook Rd. to reach a pipe with a collapsed liner that caused a major sewage backup. Ramps have been built to provide access from driveways to the road where bypass piping has been laid. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

[Updated, 10 p.m.] MDC crews say that a collapsed liner caused a blockage in a sewer pipe in the area of Linbrook Road in West Hartford, and excavating the area to access the pipe and determine what will be required for repair. 

Houses along Linbrook Road in West Hartford are being cleaned out by MDC contractors. Appliances and other items have been removed from basements. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton


A contractor for the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) was working in West Hartford throughout the day Thursday, excavating the roadway in front of 55 Linbrook Rd. to reach the top of the main sewer pipe that was blocked by a collapsed liner, spokesperson Kerry Martin said in an email late Thursday afternoon.

According to Martin, the pipe will be opened up so that a full CCTV (camera) can be placed inside to determine the exact nature of the damage and the extent of repair that is needed. A portion of pipe will need to be replaced, she said, but exactly how much won’t be known until the camera inspection is complete.

Additional excavation and removal of the damaged pipe is expected to take place on Friday, Martin said.

Bypass pumping will continue until the pipe has been repaired.

Martin said that the MDC has also engaged contractors to replace water heaters, furnaces, and other items damaged from the back-up of sewer water, which in some basements rose to 5 feet.

Along the western end of Linbrook Road, between Montclair Drive and North Main Street, driveways were littered with the contents of residents’ basements, including washers and dryers that had been damaged by the flood of sewage.

Resident Rick Bush, who had at least 4 feet of water in his basement, spread some of his sports memorabilia and other mementos on the sidewalk to dry, hoping to be able to salvage at least some of it.

Tim Watt, who lives next door to Bush, said that his sump pumps had managed to keep most of the water out of his basement, but at one point the flow got so strong it started bubbling out of a sink. Neighbors pitched in to help bail, he said.

“An electrical contractor, working with the town building inspector, will be evaluating electrical panels and wiring that were affected, and will determine what is safe and what need to be replaced. The goal remains making the properties habitable and getting families back in their homes as soon as possible,” Martin said in an email.

Four families remained displaced at area hotels on Thursday night, Martin said.

Martin also noted that insurance adjustors for the contractor that had been working on the sewer pipe will be reaching out in the next few days to all impacted homeowners to work on “continued restoration efforts.” MDC claims staff will also remain involved in the process, Martin said.

An MDC contractor excavates the roadway in front of 55 Linbrook Rd. to reach a pipe with a collapsed liner that caused a major sewage backup. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Original story

The western end of Linbrook Road, looking toward North Main Street. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) has determined that the lining of a sewer pipe approximately 4 feet upstream of the manhole that is opposite 55 Linbrook Road has collapsed, blocking the flow of wastewater in the 27-inch pipe and causing sewage to back up into the roadway and the basements of about 20 homes in the area on Wednesday morning.

A contractor had been working on restoration of the sewer pipes over the summer, and had installed a liner, which is a common method that avoids excavating the entire roadway.

MDC spokesperson Kerry Martin said in an email Thursday that the agency was able to determine the source of the problem through use of a camera and “partial man entry,” but due to an “excessive amount of ground water inflow between the liner and host pipe, a man entry to remove the collapsed portion is not possible at this time.”

Martin said it has been determined that excavation of the area is now required to access the blockage, and that work began Thursday morning.

The estimated timeline for the repair will be determined once the excavation is completed, and Martin said that more information should be available later Thursday.

Bypass pumping is continuing while the main pipe is still blocked, and MDC crews have installed driveway ramps to homes along Linbrook Road so that they can access the street from their driveways.

Sewer service was not interrupted to any of the residences because of the bypass piping that was put in place on Wednesday, Martin said.

According to Martin, residents of five homes were put up at local hotels, at MDC expense, because their homes were deemed uninhabitable due to flooding in the basement compromising hot water heaters, electricity, and other utilities. The West Hartford fire marshal and other building inspectors were involved in the decisions about shutting off utilities and which homes needed to be vacated, she said.

One area resident, whose home was impacted, had been out of town and arrived home late last night to find a basement flooded with sewer discharge, Martin said.

“We are concentrating on making those houses habitable,” Martin said, but is not sure whether enough restoration will be able to be completed by the end of Thursday in order to get residents back into their homes.

Martin said that the goal right now for the impacted residents is getting them back into their homes as soon as possible, and the MDC is handling that without regard to who will be ultimately responsible.

“Until we dig the pipe up and get a better look, we can’t tell,” she said.

“We want to know what actually caused the [collapse that led to the blockage], and that will determine who will be the lead for the restoration going forward,” Martin said.

Linbrook Road is currently closed to through traffic from North Main Street to the west loop of Montclair Drive.

Check back with We-Ha.com for further updates.

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