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NOTE: This is an expanded story covering an issue first reported on Monday, January 15.
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An accumulation of foreign matter, including grease laden with bricks, stones, and some wood, clogged a 12-inch-diameter municipal sanitary sewer line midday on Monday, January 15, on Church Hill Road in Sandy Hook Center, resulting in wastewater bubbling up to the road’s surface at two manholes there.
It initially was unclear if the liquid was sewage, or simply water from a water line. Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 11:48 pm for an investigation. The town Highway Department, the state Department of Transportation, the Aquarion Water Company, town Water & Sewer Authority staff, and the town Health Department went to the scene.
Fred Hurley, town public works director, said that the sewage that drains by gravity down to Sandy Hook Center from Church Hill Road west of Sandy Hook Center and also from Walnut Tree Hill Road carried the foreign matter through the sewer system until that matter reached a manhole on the street in front of 100 Church Hill Road, where the blockage and leakage occurred.
Donna Culbert, town health director, said the Health Department’s food services inspector checked properties in the area that sell food and found that the sewage backup problem affected one business — Cover Two Sports Cafe, a bar/restaurant at 100 Church Hill Road. The basement sewage backup there was in an area that was then isolated from the food service, Ms Culbert said.
“Bathroom and kitchen plumbing remained unaffected and the business was able to remain open,” she said. The affected area in the building was thoroughly cleaned and reinspected, she said.
The situation at Cover Two did not pose any public health hazard, Ms Culbert said.
Mr Hurley said the town typically has one or two sewer system blockages occurring during a given year. The central sewer system went into operation in 1997.
The sewers are designed to handle human waste and nonvolatile liquids, he said, adding, though, that people sometimes throw unusual stuff down toilets, which can eventually result in sewer system blockages.
Town workers used a specialized truck to inject highly pressurized water into the sewer system, after which they vacuumed out the sewer blockage that had been loosened by that pressurized water, Mr Hurley said. The public works director said the substances that caused the blockage may have come from multiple locations in the sewer system.
The grease that was found in the sewer line, which looked like gobs of petroleum jelly, may have come from people who pour grease down their toilets to incorrectly dispose of it.
“We were very lucky,” Mr Hurley said, adding the blockage could have caused more extensive road pavement problems than it did.
The sewage that bubbled up from beneath Church Hill Road created a void measuring about two cubic yards beneath that roadway, he said. Town workers made a temporary road patch that will be replaced by a permanent patch in the spring, he said.