said that County Executive Thomas Gordon has sassured him that
the administration wants to "rely on an education program" to
secure compliance with regulations intended to keep the sanitary
and storm sewers separate. "We think that people will want to
voluntarily remedy illegal hookups," Weiner said. "Going after
them in court wouldn't be a very popular thing to do."
long-standing practice of connecting downspouts, sump pumps and
so-called French drains to the sanitary sewers has been
identified as a significant element in overtaxing the system.
County officials have said there is no way at this point of
telling how extensive the situation is but that there are clear
indications there are a considerable number of such connections.
planned as part of the effort to locate damaged pipes to pump
telltale smoke into the sewer lines. It not only would leak
through ruptures in the pipes but also smoke out unauthorized
property owners are responsible for such situations, many of the
connections -- particularly the older ones -- were made by
former owners or even builders. It apparently was common
practice early on in the suburban building boom to connect
gutters to the sanitary sewers.
Ted DeBoda said the smoke also will pinpoint internal plumbing
problems by emerging inside buildings. It will, then, be
advantageous for the owners to correct those situations, he
Lee, a consulting engineer on the project, told attenders at the
July 19 meeting that some sanitary sewers in Brandywine Hundred
are carrying volumes two to three times greater than the amount
of water being supplied to the area. If the system were totally
tight, the amounts would be equal. The county's sewer tax is
based on water consumption.
of that, he and project manager Ted DeBoda said, is attributable
to illegal connections. The biggest contributor is stormwater
which flows into the system through numerous gaps in the 40- to
50-year-old terra cotta pipes.
end, DeBoda said, the most concerted immediate effort will be to
replace manhole covers with fewer openings and install virtually
watertight mounts for them. There are 38,000 manholes in the
country's 1,500 mile system.
meeting, an unusual joint gathering of the Council of Civic
Organizations of Brandywine Hundred, Claymont Coalition and Fox
Point Association, officials gave a general overview of the
project. Countywide, it will cost in the range of $250 million
and take about six years to complete. As previously reported by
Delaforum, some $7 million has been earmarked to finance work in
an 'L'-shaped area of Brandywine Hundred territory
drained by sewer lines along the Delaware River between Edgemoor
and Claymont and west along Naamans Creek to roughly Shipley
DeBoda said the work will start on
the western side of that territory -- probably in Dartmouth
Woods and proceed south toward the Folk and Murphy Roads area.
That has been identified as the area with the highest ratio of
sewage compared to water consumption.
He said he was unable to give a
timetable because "we don't know the extent of the problems
until we see what we find" when the sewer lines are inspected.
He said the process is to follow the lines, using
remote-controlled cameras, until the sources of problems are
located. To the extent possible they will be fixed remotely,
thereby minimizing the amount of digging required. Most of the
digging that will occur, he said, will be to reconnect the
individual lines which connect houses and other buildings to the
"We will do as little [digging] as
possible," he said, promising that areas which are dug up will
be restored when the work is completed.
He also said property owners will be
notified well in advance of inspections involving the non-toxic
smoke. There also will be meetings set up with various civic
associations to provide specifics of what will happen in each
He said the guiding
principle behind the project is to make repairs as it
progresses. "We don't want to treat it as a study; we will fix
the problems as soon as we find them," he said.