More sewer overflows reported in Fairfield
Frequent rain last week produced an all-too-common problem for the city of Fairfield – wastewater overflows.
Approximately 420,000 gallons of untreated wastewater was discharged from the sanitary sewer Friday and Saturday. Wastewater plant superintendent Shawn Worley said the city noted overflows at five sites in town.
The surface soil was already saturated at the beginning of last week because of frequent rain throughout April. Worley said the area received 2.34 inches of rain from Wednesday through Saturday, which was more than enough to produce several sewer overflows.
“This is most definitely a public health hazard,” Worley said.
Worley said the overflowing wastewater is very diluted waste because so much of it is rainwater, but nevertheless the fact it is untreated waste presents a health concern. The stream most of the overflow went into was Crow Creek. In the event of a sanitary sewer overflow, Worley recommends staying away from affected waters, such as Crow Creek, for 24 hours after the rain stops.
Worley said the five sites where the city noted overflows were the same five sites that overflowed the last time Fairfield received heavy rains. He said the city has identified 11 “monitoring sites” in town where overflows routinely occur. Worley said the city identified those monitoring sites years ago when the overflows were so forceful they blew the manhole covers off. The city has placed computers in the sanitary sewer at those locations to measure when the overflows happen, how long they last and how many gallons escape.
The city purchased those computers about three years ago in order to more accurately report its sanitary sewer overflows to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The city has also used the data from those computers to help determine where rainwater is entering the sanitary sewer.
The city hired McClure Engineering to perform a flow study of the town’s sanitary sewer to determine where rainwater was entering the sewer. Worley said the company relied on computer data taken inside the sewer as well as smoke testing sewer lines to see where smoke rose when it was pumped through the line. He said the city expects to receive the final report on the flow study from the company any day.