South Bend residents have been reporting and complaining about black tube rises that can be seen from Riley High School to the corner of Ewing and Michigan street. The black pipes, on top of the ground, are seen in the south side of town and have been a major talk of discussion among residents.
The city’s public works director, Eric Horvath, states that the pipes are not a mainstay and that they are part of an important sewer project in the city.
The project will provide long-term benefits to the city. He explains that the current sewer lining systems date back to the early 1900s and carries sanitary and storm water. The aging pipes will receive a new lining, which is expected to cost the city $3 million.
Groundwater has started to enter the pipes through small cracks found in manholes and joints.
The addition of groundwater in the 72″ in diameter pipes have caused the pipe’s capacity to suffer. The pipes are no longer able to properly provide capacity for sanitary flows and storm water. The city’s sewage plant has to work harder and handle more sanitation as a result of the over-capacitated pipes.
The black tubing residents are seeing are being used as a temporary means of redirecting the sewer flow while the pipes are being relined. The redirection allows the city’s sewer and water systems to continue to operate without disruption.
City inspectors inspected the 100+ year old pipe and determined that it is still in a good enough condition to be used. Replacing the pipes is costlier. Relining the pipes doesn’t require the city to disrupt traffic because the streets don’t need to be torn up in the process.
City officials expect the project to be completed by the end of the month, weather permitting.
The relining project is also expected to benefit the city by resolving the issue of Bowman Creek drying up. The creek has been known to dry up during dry weather conditions. Officials suggest that the creek runs underground at some point through the south side of the city. Water makes its way into the city’s sewer system, causing the creek to dry up prematurely.
Correcting the lining issue will allow the creek to remain fuller for longer, according to city officials.
The creek has been known to be a dumping area for illegal trash when it runs dry. Officials hope that if the creek remains full for longer, it will alleviate the illegal trash dumping in the area.
The state is struggling to deal with aging infrastructure which, in many cases, dates back to the late 1800s. Several projects to replace sewer and piping systems are slated to run into 2019, closing roads for months at a time. Water and sewer pipes are excavated and then rebuilt, causing many streets to be closed for long periods of time. Projects in some areas date back over two decades.
The projects are expected to provide a reliable system that has an 80-year lifespan before needing to be replaced again.