Janine Burke-Wells has been smoking out some foul odors.
The executive director of the Warwick Sewer Authority was on Haven Street Wednesday morning with a crew that was literally blowing smoke into city sewer lines.
It is all part of an effort to eliminate the nasty smell of hydrogen sulfide – like rotten eggs only worse – that has plagued the neighborhood in and around Cedar Swamp Road. Cedar Swamp is the site of a major pump station and a break in the line in 2011 that cost the authority more than $2 million to repair.
Working with its consultant, Tighe & Bond, Inc., the authority was tracking where the smoke pumped into the system was being detected. Predictably, smoke wafted from the holes used to lift manhole covers. But it also showed up from the down spouts of some area homes, indicating gutters had been illegally tied into the city sewer system. Smoke also emanated from roof bathroom vents, as it should.
However, if homes tied into the sewer system were not properly vented, the smoke ended up in people’s homes, indicating the need to identify leaks in the system that could introduce odors into the house. According to a release issued by the WSA, the smoke is non-toxic, leaves no residue or stains and is safe for plants and animals.
Identifying the source of the odors is the first step; the second is reducing or eliminating them.
Charles Lombardi, principal of O&M Solutions and WSA consultant, likened the sewer line to a giant bottle of soda. Shake it up and gases expand, forcing the bottle to overflow. In the case of the sewer line, the pumping station shakes up the wastewater, which in turn releases the gases that fill the pipes to escape into the surrounding neighborhood.
Burke-Wells has a solution for the odors escaping from manholes. It’s a carbon-based filter. Twelve of the filters, costing about $500 each and good for a year, have been installed in the neighborhood.
“This is short money and low maintenance,” Burke-Wells said of the filters.
Meanwhile, the authority is also exploring a chemical solution to the issue of hydrogen sulfide, which is a corrosive agent and seen responsible for the deterioration and break in the Cedar Swamp line more than five years ago. Chemicals have been introduced into the wastewater, but when they are added and in what quantity have been problematic. Burke-Wells said the authority is exploring a drip system.
Burke-Wells advises area residents to call the authority or file an online complaint on the WSA website when they detect foul odors. Knowing where and when the odors occur is critical to preventing them in the future.
Residents with concerns or questions are asked to call
WSA Collection Systems Manager John Hannon at 862-5913 or WSA Collection Systems Senior Inspector Joe Colicchio at 862-7744.