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Columbia sewer inspections move to west side of town

Home inspections for potential connections to the city’s sewer system will continue to the west side of town in an effort to reduce sewage back-ups into homes.

Columbia Public Works hosted an open house alongside its contractor for the work, TREKK Design Group, Tuesday night to inform residents what would happen. Crews with TREKK will conduct inspections at willing participants’ homes to find where they might connect with the city’s sewer lines in the County House Branch area. TREKK completed home inspections in the Flat Branch area, bound roughly by West Boulevard and Westwood Avenue.

Columbia is trying to battle stormwater seeping into its sewer pipes, known as “inflow and infiltration.” TREKK surveyor Steve Wilson said groundwater or recent snow melt mixes with the sewage, and can drive the sewage back into people’s homes.

“The driving factor is that people that live in low-lying areas, when the city sewer lines overflow, or reach capacity, that water’s backing up into their basement,” Wilson told ABC 17 News.

The city’s water treatment plant also gets millions of extra gallons of water to treat because of the infiltration, Wilson said, costing the city more. TREKK will begin work in west Columbia, working their way from the neighborhood west of Limerick Lane and south of Chapel Hill Road, north to Rollins Road, west of Stadium Boulevard. TREKK’s free home inspections are designed to help the city find sump pump and other connections to its sewer lines to try and disconnect them, and hook them up to the correct lines.

Wilson said many homes are connected to clay pipes, which over time have been damaged.

“Any houses that still have clay pipes are going to have problems with roots,” Wilson said. “Roots are going to infiltrate the clay pipes. They’ve been in the ground fifty years, they’re deteriorating.”

After inspections are completed this spring, TREKK will begin smoke testing the sewer lines. Wilson said blowing non-toxic smoke through the pipes helps them see where the system may have cracks, including where it connects to people’s homes. The data also helps the city decide where further sewer repairs are needed.

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