Smoking up the sewer lines

The village of Whitehall will begin smoke testing on its sewer system in the coming weeks.


“Rural Waters is scheduled to begin smoke testing on July 1,” said Travis Mitchell of EDP Engineering. “We plan to begin testing on some streets, and depending on how it goes the first couple of days, we’ll have more streets to add to the list for the following week.”
The original plan is for smoke testing to take place on the following streets starting July 1: East Park, West Park, Poultney, Champlain Avenue, Pauline, Montcalm, Elizabeth, Davis, South Williams, Potter, Routes 4/22, Seventh Avenue, Fifth Avenue, Third Avenue, Second Avenue, First Avenue, Vaughn, Blinn, Jalet, School, Hurricane, West, Brookdale Avenue, Chapin Avenue, Saunders, Rock Avenue, Smith and Boardman.
“We anticipate conducting leak tests in the sanitary sewer system beginning until the end of November,” said Mayor Francis “Fra” Putorti. “The tests will be performed by village employees as well as private contractors.”
In a letter to residents, Putorti said the test will consist of using smoke to reveal where leaks are occurring in the system.
“A non-toxic smoke will be blown into the system to reveal leaks that allow storm water and other surface waters to enter,” said Putorti. “The smoke is manufactured specifically for this purpose, leaves no residual or stains, and has no effects on plants or animals. It has a distinctive, but not unpleasant, odor. The visible smoke and odor only last a few minutes, where there is adequate ventilation.”
Finding the leaks is part of the process in repairing the sewer system and complying with the Consent Order issued to the village by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
“Locating and correcting these leaks will conserve expensive capacity at the treatment facility and is required by a Consent Decree with the DEC,” said Putorti. “A record of leaks must be made.”
Putorti said the smoke from the testing should not enter a person’s residence.
“If smoke does enter your home any of the following are likely causes, including the vents connected to your building’s sewer system lateral are inadequate, defective, or improperly installed; the traps under sinks, tubs, basins, showers, floor drains, etc. are dry, defective, improperly installed or missing; and the pipes, connections and seals of the building’s sewer system are damaged, defective, have plugs missing, or are improperly installed,” said Putorti.
Putorti added if smoke does enter your home, it could be a signal that a more dangerous problem is occurring.
“If traces of the smoke or its odor enter your house or building, it is an indication that odor from the sewer system may also be entering,” said Putorti. “This can be unpleasant, dangerous and a potential health hazard. The location, identification and correction of the source of any smoke entering your house is required.”
Putorti also said all testing will be announced and advertised.
“The locations and areas of testing will be announced in the Whitehall Times and on Cable Channel 16 during the week prior to the scheduled tests for a particular area,” said Putorti.
For more information on the smoke testing and schedule, contact the village offices at 499-0871.



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