Roseland DPW Cleans Up Sewer Blockage at Harrison and Lincoln
Friday, March 1, 2013 • 1:02am
ROSELAND, NJ - Wednesday, Roseland residents in the Lincoln Street / Davenport / Harrison Avenue neighborhood experienced a sewer backup to their home systems that the Department of Public Works needed to clean up for hours.
"I wasn't affected at all, but my neighbor two doors down got flooded," commented Roseland's Gina Colangelo who lives on Harrison Avenue. "The manhole is on the sidewalk in front of my house where they had to flush the problem."
The Superintendent of Public Works Gary Schall explained that the sewage system in this neighborhood is set up so that the path flows by gravity down Harrison Avenue and is met with sewage coming from Lincoln Street and Davenport Avenue and continues west eventually ending up at the Caldwell Wastewater Treatment Plant on Pine Tree Place in West Caldwell.
Lincoln Street at Harrison Avenue, Roseland Credit: Google Maps
“We got out there immediately, as soon as we heard. We needed to shoot up into it to clean it,” explained Schall. “Had we known earlier about the blockage, we could have stopped it all from getting into people’s homes.”
One of the Lincoln Street residents apparently noticed the backup in his shower before leaving for work in the morning, but figured he would wait to tell the department when he got back home from work. “If he had called us first to investigate it, we would have been able to take care of it sooner before it became everyone else’s problem,” Schall added.
Lincoln Street resident, Stella Jemas Bakiritzis, commented, "With all the rain yesterday, I thought something happened with the sewers on and around Lincoln. The utility sink in my basement kept filling up with water. I thought I had a major problem in my own home, until I saw some police and DPW activity around 9:30pm last night.”
“I called the police station and asked what was going on and was told that everybody on my block was having a problem of sorts and they were working on it," continued Bakiritzis. "The police told me there is a problem and that DPW is investigating."
Lincoln Street at Harrison Avenue, Roseland Credit: Carolyne Curley
The superintendent explained that pipes over time get coated on the inside with a mixture of grease and phosphate cleaning products which cling to the inner pipe to varying degrees of thickness and length.
The DPW believes that the backup on Wednesday was caused by the use of cleaning products made from enzymes which are used by both restaurants and homeowners. By design, enzymes are natural proteins that act as a catalyst to break down the grease and phosphate emulsions that buildup in pipes. As the enzymes work away at the grease product, the emulsion mixture breaks off from the inner wall of the pipe and starts to float along through the system. Along the way that piece of emulsion further mixes with items that should never have been put into the sewer system such as paper towels and hygiene products.
Ultimately, the DPW discovered as they cleaned out the system, that very large pieces of emulsions, which could have started as long ago as last week, and as far away as Roseland Center, had in fact broken free and were causing large blockages along the system surrounding the Harrison and Lincoln/Davenport neighborhood area.
"My utility sink in the basement was filling up with water, there was no raw sewage, only water in the sink. The water that came up my utility sink drain looked cloudy. I did panic last night. I thought I had a major problem with the house until I saw the DPW doing repairs on Harrison by Lincoln Street,” expressed Bakiritzis. “It was strange because as I bailed out the sink more water was coming up. It was bubbling as if air was forcing it up. Otherwise, toilets, sinks, bath and showers - all were fine.”
The DPW worked until about 10pm Wednesday evening until the water was flowing through properly and they knew the pipes were completely cleared.
"My neighbor called around 8:30pm and they were done by 10pm. They seemed to fix the problem,” commented Colangelo on Harrison.
Bakiritzis added, “This morning after the water was gone there was a thick oily dark colored substance on the bottom of the sink. But now, everything is normal. It’s all good.”
Roseland Department of Public Works Credit: Carolyne Curley
The Roseland DPW schedules “trouble spot” area checks on sewer systems two times a year and apparently it’s worked out well. "In all my years in Roseland I never heard the town has problems with sewer backups," expressed Colangelo.
Bakiritzis agreed, “This was the first time in 26 years something like this happened!”
Roseland home owners are entirely responsible for their own sewer line from their house all of the way to the point where it connects to the main sewer line. The superintendent cautioned that they need to be aware they are responsible for “repairing, replacing and continuing to clean their sewer lines.”
“As soon as people know of a back-up, please, they should call us,” noted Schall. “Ninety percent of the time it turns out to be a problem in the household plumbing, but they should always call us and let us verify that for them first.”
For further information:
Borough of Roseland
Mayor: John Duthie
19 Harrison Avenue
Roseland, N.J. 07068
Facebook Page: Roseland Borough
Department of Public Works