Hampton Beach suffered another sewer break last week, marking the second time in two years that the tourist hotspot’s main under the Hampton marsh broke. Town officials are working to fix the break as quickly as possible, with no expectations of the break impacting the summer tourist season.
Town officials found the break after a routine pressure check in the system. The break was confirmed the next day after the test indicated a leak in an underwater force main. The main was also leaking in 2016.
Officials have decided to discontinue the water main and divert the wastewater through a second pipe that runs along the broken main. The diverted pipe runs from Church Street to the wastewater treatment plant.
City officials claim that there will be no environmental damage from the leak. Fecal coliform counts were at “zero” despite the break. Officials are unsure of why the count has remained so low even with the break. All theories are “guesswork,” but the fecal matter may have been absorbed by the marsh. Officials confirm that fecal matter did not make its way into the harbor or stream.
The area’s sewer main runs off of one pipe during the winter and fall months, but officials claim that the pipe must be repaired by the time tourists arrive.
State officials have been notified of the break and it’s unclear whether or not fines will be levied against the town. State officials have long requested the city to replace their pipes, at one point issuing an administrative order to replace the pipes. State officials will likely take into account that no fecal contamination was detected when considering fines.
Reports suggest that a nor’easter earlier in the month may have caused the pipe to break. The 2016 break was reportedly caused by a rock that had been placed on the pipe 31 years ago when it was initially installed. Sand was not found near the pipe during the 2016 break, but sand was found around the opening of the break found last week.
Officials claim that the sand likely made its way into the pipes during the flood waters caused by the nor’easter. The corrosion of the pipe that caused it to burst may be linked to the sand entering the system. Officials are unsure if the sand was to blame, but inspections from February 28 show that the pipe was functioning properly prior to the storm.
The town’s Public works will be working on a temporary fix between April 6 and April 14. Workers will be able to inspect the pipe at that time and determine the cause of the break. The project is expected to cost the city $100,000.
Officials are awaiting the results of the inspection before determining their options to replace the pipe.
City residents rejected a 2017 proposal to replace the city’s pipes. The proposal estimated the replacements to cost $4.2 million. The lowest bid for the project was $2.8 million, with prices rising $3 million this year based on increasing costs.