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MDC Testing New Material for West Hartford Sewer Pipe, Checking Other Lined Pipes in Town

Linbrook Road as of Oct. 10, 2018. The excavation trench has been temporarily covered up, but bypass pumping continues with pumps stationed at the west end of the roadway near North Main Street. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

With heavy rain expected Thursday, the Metropolitan District Commission is taking extra precautions and has stationed extra pumps on Linbrook Road in West Hartford where a blockage resulted in a serious sewer backup last week.

By Ronni Newton

The Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and its contractors are continuing the process of clean-up, restoration, and inspection of sewer pipes on Linbrook Road, where the failure of a liner in a 27-inch pipe resulted in a blockage that led to the roadway and many basements being flooded with sewage on Oct. 3.

Bypass pumps remain in place, diverting the sewage from the pipe with the damaged liner, and will remain in use and operated by the MDC’s contractor, Ludlow Construction, until repairs are complete.

MDC spokesperson Kerry Martin, in an email update Wednesday afternoon, said that extra precautions are being taken due to heavy rain forecast for Thursday.

Extra pumps have been positioned on site, to guard against any pump failures or the need for additional capacity due to rainfall. “If required, we will bypass flows before they can fill the pipe to capacity and potentially cause a backup,” Martin said in her email.

The MDC has also vacuumed out all catch basins.

MDC and Ludlow Construction staff are continuing to inspect other sections of lined sewer pipe using a CCTV camera, but Martin said that the work may have to be stopped temporarily if heavy rain leads to high flow of water through the pipe.

She said that the inspection of the 27-inch pipe on Linbrook, where the liner failed last week, should be completed by Wednesday evening, and work that is being done inside the homes affected by the backup should not be impacted by the weather.

Work inside the homes includes sewer backup prevention assessments and installation of check valves or backwater valves in homes that have fixtures below grade level. “The specific plumbing set up and fixtures/appliances in the basement determine whether check valves or backwater vales are appropriate, but both accomplish the same goal – to prevent sewer water from flowing back into a property through subsurface fixtures,” Martin said in her email.

The MDC is also installing sump pumps and other prevention devices, and has hired contractors to repair and/or replace mechanical systems, including hot water heaters, boilers, and gas furnaces that were damaged due to the sewage backup.

The MDC contracted with ServPro to have impacted properties cleaned up and sanitized, and dumpsters placed in the roadway for disposal of damaged property were due to be removed Wednesday. Residents whose cars were impacted by the flooding were issued car wash vouchers.

The MDC “continues to work day and night to ensure that everyday lives of the residents of Linbrook Road/North Main Street return to some semblance of normalcy. We thank the affected residents for their patience,” the organization said in a news release issued Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Martin told We-Ha.com that Ludlow Construction was the primary contractor hired by the MDC to do the rehabilitation of the sewer pipes on Linbrook, and their subcontractor did the actual lining replacement work. Ludlow has assigned an insurance adjustor, John Machado from Travelers, to handle the homeowners’ claims.

At this time, Martin said, “There is no assumption of liability because there is no determined cause of the [lining failure] yet.” The responsible party could be the contractor, subcontractor, or even the manufacturer of the lining.

“We will make sure people are taken care of, and then worry about who will pay for it,” Martin told We-Ha.com.

Martin said that the same type of liner that failed in the Linbrook Road pipe has been used in one other area in West Hartford. About 177 feet of liner was used in that other pipe, and Martin said that MDC staff as well as the contractor’s staff are conducting an inspection, as well as inspections of small sections of pipes in East Hartford and Hartford where the same type of liner was used.

Martin said that the liner in question, which is made of fiberglass and cured by ultraviolet light, has been safely in use in the United States since 2006, and in use in Europe for much longer. “This is an unusual event,” Martin said, but the inspections are being done just to ensure that there are not any issues in other places. She said that there is no reason to believe that the liner as a whole is the problem.

Prior to the use of the current type of liner, pipes were rehabilitated using a liner that was cured with steam, a process that was much more weather dependent. Before liners were developed, the only way to rehabilitate sewer pipes was to excavate and replace them, Martin said.

The pipe on Linbrook Road, which had the liner installed for rehabilitative purposes, was not in bad shape, Martin said. “In this case the integrity of the pipe was not bad, but as part of the Clean Water mandate we are required to protect [the sewer pipes] from seepage of ground water” so the liner was being installed to eliminate inflow and infiltration.

The alternative liner that will be installed in 300 feet of pipe on Linbrook Road is currently being tested offsite, and should be installed, inspected, and rigorously tested in the pipe next week. Bypass pumping equipment will remain in use until the work is completed.

Five homeowners were initially displaced due to flooding and/or damage caused by the sewer backup. As of Wednesday night, Martin said that one homeowner remains displaced and is expected to be able to return home early next week.

“We want to be clear – until such time as the third party responsible for this loss accepts responsibility, the MDC will make sure that these residents – our customers – are able to reoccupy their once safe and habitable homes. In addition, if requested, we will assist each homeowner in developing their respective claims as to submit to the responsible party,” the MDC’s Oct. 10 news release states.

Martin said that any homeowners who are not satisfied with the response they are getting should contact MDC Claims Representative Dan Rotondo at 860-278-7850 ext.3332, or email her at [email protected].

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