Sewer obstruction in Birmingham

A sewer line along Route 202 in Birmingham Township is partly obstructed and supervisors want to fix it as soon as possible. To that end, supervisors voted 3-0 Monday night to spend up to $64,000 for the repair project.

Former Supervisor Bill Kirkpatrick, who’s now on the sewer authority, said the obstruction is between two manholes between the Acura dealership on Route 202 and the one behind Freddy’s at Old Wilmington Pike. They’re about 306 feet apart.

The liquid in the pipes is acidic, rated at a pH of 2, he told the supervisors. [A pH — percent hydrogen — of 2 is about equivalent to the acidity of lemon juice.] One of the reasons for the low pH is because no air is getting into the system, creating an anaerobic environment. That acidity has eroded a lot of the original pipes that were installed 35-40 years ago, and sediment settled into the damaged line.

“This is an emergency,” Kirkpatrick said.

While there is still flow through the lines, the lines are obstructed and could get worse causing a full blockage. Kirkpatrick said the obstruction is severe enough that they can’t get a camera in to inspect the line.

The current plan to solve the situation is to excavate near the manhole by Freddy’s and run some high-pressure cleaning equipment up the line to clear out the debris. If that works, damaged pipes can be replaced and they can then be sealed with a liner.

If that fails, more work would be needed with a cost estimate of $100,000. That extra work could involve installing a bypass line and possibly require the removal of a three-foot diameter tree, he said.

Because of the emergency nature, the township might not need to go through the traditional bidding process.

Supervisor Michael Shiring made the motion to authorize spending no more than $64,000 for the initial emergency repairs. That figure, he said, is based on the estimate from the township’s sewer engineer project consultant.

Shiring also said he would check with the township solicitor to make sure the lining would also qualify as an emergency so that there would be no need to go through a bidding process for that.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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