Work underway to repair leaks to sewer system

WATERTIGHT — A worker from Dearborn Construction guides backhoe work on Bridgton’s Church Street, after digging around a manhole to remove old, crumbling bricks allowing wastewater to seep into the sewer system. The construction company will be excavating at various locations along the system over the next month or two, based on camera work that detected locations where water infiltration is occurring. (Geraghty Photo)

WATERTIGHT — A worker from Dearborn Construction guides backhoe work on Bridgton’s Church Street, after digging around a manhole to remove old, crumbling bricks allowing wastewater to seep into the sewer system. The construction company will be excavating at various locations along the system over the next month or two, based on camera work that detected locations where water infiltration is occurring. (Geraghty Photo)

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Wondering why strange orange symbols and letters have suddenly been spray-painted on the sidewalks, parking lots and streets in downtown Bridgton?

The markings indicate “suspect” areas underneath the pavement, where the town’s sewer system may have developed leaks. And for the next month or two, the town’s Public Works and Wastewater Departments will be working with Dearborn Construction and Wright-Pierce Engineers on the three E’s — “Excavation, exploration and remediation,” to control inflow and infiltration into the system, explained Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz.

At Tuesday’s Selectmen meeting, Chairman Doug Taft told Berkowitz he hoped the town could inform businesses ahead of time if excavation work was planned in front of their business. A business on Depot Street complained when crews closed down the street for most of the day after finding a broken section of sewer pipe that had to be replaced.

Berkowitz said that because the nature of the work is exploratory, it might be difficult to inform abutters of work being done in any given location on any given day. The town, by law, must notify Dig Safe, a statewide clearinghouse that notifies utility companies of any plans to dig underground.

But because Dearborn cannot know ahead of time what they’ll encounter until they’ve excavated the suspect site, it’s not possible to provide a construction schedule ahead of time, Berkowitz said.

“What we’re doing may be out of our control,” he said.

Camera work done in 2006 identified areas in the lines where rainwater was likely infiltrating into the system because of a leak or general deterioration in the system. But the extent of the problem, and type of repair, cannot be known for sure until the area is excavated, Berkowitz said.

“We’re trying to get off of Main Street as quickly as we can.”

The broken pipe on Depot Street was a major problem, and Dearborn is going after the most serious suspect areas first, he explained. “We hope we find no more of those (broken pipes),” said Berkowitz.

The work was put off through the summer so as not to disrupt the heavier summer traffic. The work is expected to be completed by the second week of November, if not sooner, Berkowitz said. Once complete, the work will prevent the town’s two septic fields from getting flooded during high rain and water events.

The work is being done on a unit pricing basis, he added. “You don’t know what you’re going to spend until you find it.”

Berkowitz said the town will post updates on its website, detailing areas where work is to be done, if known ahead of time. “We don’t want to leave any suspicious areas untouched.”

 

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