According to John Ruddell, a supervisor for the city’s waste water collection system, as simple as it seems, one of the most effective ways to find leaks or unintended pipe connections in a sanitary sewer system is to push smoke through the pipes. Historic City News readers who reside in the Abbott Tract neighborhood will be affected as the city begins this testing in two weeks.
Starting on Monday, September 23rd, and continuing until Tuesday, October 1st, smoke testing will be conducted in the area that lies between Pine Street, Water Street, Shenandoah Street, and San Marco Avenue. Additionally, systems along Ocean Avenue, Myrtle Avenue, and Magnolia Avenue south of Ballard Avenue, will be tested.
“If smoke shows during the test, it’s a defect in the system — not a fire,” Ruddell told local reporters. “A door hanger will be distributed to all affected residences describing the test, what to expect, and how to minimize smoke from entering buildings.”
Public Affairs Director Paul Williamson advised Historic City News that the smoke is odorless, creates no fire hazard, and should not enter your home or business unless you have defective plumbing or dried-up sink traps or floor drains.
“The smoke used for this test is manufactured for this purpose and leaves no residue or stains and has no effect on plants and animals,” Williamson wrote. “This smoke testing is part of the city’s continuing effort to provide a safe, economical, efficient and environmentally sound sewer system throughout the City of St Augustine.”
That said, Williamson cautioned that direct contact with the smoke may cause minor respiratory irritation in some people.
“Eliminating system defects and illegal connections will help our community remain in compliance with new federal legislation regarding sewer systems maintenance and sanitary sewer overflows,” said Martha Graham, PE; the city’s Director of Public Works. “The smoke testing procedure has been recommended by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as an effective means of identifying problem areas in the sewer system.”
Residents do not need to be home during the testing. A door hanger with contact information and other preparatory and precautionary steps will be distributed to the homes in the area of the testing.