Delmar Events
Thursday, March 23rd, 2000
 
Collapsed sewer pipe to be fixed

By April Durham
If weather permits, construction will start Thursday on a 70-year-old clay pipe on Pennsylvania Avenue in Delmar. After a sewer line collapse on Thursday, March 2, (at East Elizabeth going north towards East Street) public works was able to clear the lines and continue the flow.
But "it's nowhere near what it should be," said Roberta Glenn, Delmar town manager. "Once an 8-inch pipe, now it's less than 2 inches."
"The problem with the Pennsylvania Avenue's sewer is the result of deteriorating vitrified clay sewer pipe that is located close to the former Conrail railroad line," said Jerry Friedel, consulting engineer for the town of Delmar.
Over the years, vibrations and heavy traffic loads have caused the old clay pipe to fail, resulting in soil entering the sewer system and undermining the road. Most recently the sewer was completely obstructed by soil and a sink hole developed in the street.
Each year the town spends a significant amount of money on replacing sections of old pipe. In the past, the town has developed a capital program based on priorities. The first project addressed in the waste water system was replacing the 40-year-old pumping station (the main pumping station) on Pine Street. Funded in 1994 -95, the project cost $500,000.
In 1996-97, the Elizabeth Street force main (which is the primary force main that takes the sewer out of town and to the pumping station) was replaced.
The 1998-99 project worked on one section of a sewer pipe on Pennsylvania Avenue. Last year, the town had a section of sewer pipe from East Elizabeth to East Chestnut Street collapse. Correcting such a collapse in a pipe that is nearly 12 feet deep is an extremely expensive process.
After by-passing pumping from manhole to manhole, the town was able to keep the sewer flowing. The project cost the town $67,500, which included everything from construction, pumping and photographing the lines to engineering design fees. The town received state assistance on the project through the Maryland Department of the Environment.
This year's project, which involved a section of a pipe on State Street, has already consumed the $60,000 waste water capital fund set aside for fiscal year 2000. Knowing that another rain could force the Pennsylvania pipe to collapse again, the town was faced with two options.
"Every now and then you get a situation where we're not moving fast enough, however it takes a lot of money to make these projects happen. When you're talking about $158 a foot to replace [a pipe], the numbers add up really fast," Glenn said.
The town's first option in fixing the situation would be to do a repair on the pipe. Meaning we would excavate and replace a 20-foot section of pipe and put a pavement patch on top of the street. This would cost approximately $4,000.
The second option, replacing the pipe from manhole to manhole, would be a permanent fix. The town received estimates of between $30,000 and $50,000 to do that.
Replacing the whole sewer line from Bi-State Boulevard to Foskey Lane would cost the town from $300,000 to $400,000 to replace.
On Monday, March 6, after receiving figures for all options, the Maryland Utility Commission made a recommendation to permanently fix the problem, manhole to manhole. Later that day, the Delmar, Del., council reached a unanimous decision to proceed. The following monday (March 13) the Delmar, Md., council affirmed the decision.
Contractors David G. Horsey & Sons Inc. of Laurel are expected to complete the project within 30 days. The problem will be fixed by replacing the existing sewer pipe in its current location with new PVC pipe. The project will cost $31,000.
Presently, the town is in the process of applying for a Community Development Block Grant for the project. Glenn said that the grant process can be time consuming, taking over a year if the project is funded in the first round and two years if it is not.
The Maryland Department of Environment, which funded phase one of the project, has also been asked for continuing assistance on the project.
"These grants are competitive. There's a lot of towns out there that have the same type of infrastructure problems as we have . So we attempt to keep the projects affordable so it makes it realistic for them to fund us. However, due to the urgency of the two collapses we need to go in and request full funding," Glenn said.
The town will start its new fiscal year in July, giving an opportunity to fund the project in 2001 and 2002. This option would still maintain the town's capital funds in case other problems arose throughout the year.
"I know citizens get really frustrated of the multiple projects going on in certain areas; however, we attempt to permanently solve the problem when we plan a project.
"Sometimes when you live in a small town with limited funds you have to deal with a lot of inconvenience but you get projects completed this way," said Glenn.