The top 3 causes of the sewer backups in Shorewood and Whitefish Bay - Laterals-Laterals-Laterals

Laterals, sewers, sewage backup, Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Wautosa, Back Flow Preventers

Officials in Wauwatosa recently found huge problems with the laterals connecting the sewer lines to each individual property.


As reported by  Don Behm of the Journal Sentinel :


“ Sept. 16, 2010 | Four times more storm water leaked into privately owned sanitary sewer laterals of homes in several Wauwatosa neighborhoods than into the municipal sanitary sewers beneath the streets during a recent study simulating a minor storm, a Wauwatosa city official and a consultant said Thursday.

The surprising volumes of clear storm water flowing out of the private laterals - a total of 380 gallons a minute from a group of homes along Ravenswood Circle - shows the need for all communities in the metropolitan area to identify and help fix leaking private sewers, City Engineer Bill Wehrley said.

Clean water flowing into laterals draining to sanitary sewers during rainstorms can quickly fill the pipes, causing sewage to back into basements. “

As I had written in previous postings on this blog, from all the information that has been put out, it appears that the LATERALS ARE THE NUMBER ONE PROBLEM !

Yet Shorewood and Whitefish Bay seem to be focusing on everything except how to get the laterals repaired and working properly, and how to actually keep sewage out of our homes.

I noted earlier that this should NOT be left to the devices of each individual property owner.

Although traditionally, the laterals have been the responsibility of the property owners, and not the municipality, we have to leave that old way of thinking, as it may have been practical back when the laterals were new and in good shape – but now we have village wide problems, that need a village wide approach.

Following the old formula for each property owner taking responsibility, other homes that have had sewage backups may well see bigger backups, and homes that have never had a sewage backup may be subject to them.

Here is an example:

Four property owners in a given block have their laterals replaced and put in Back Flow Preventers.  They are now keeping the sewage out of their houses, but the same amount of sewage is still in the system ---- but now it has to find a new place to go, as it can no longer back up into those houses.

So now the sewage backup increases on all the other houses, because it cannot go into those 4 houses, and it may even back up to the point at which it backs up into houses that never had the problem before.

In my next posting, I am going to go into more detail on exactly what the Laterals are, what they are made of, how they get broken, and why communities such as Shorewood and Whitefish Bay are more prone to the problem.




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