In a move that paves the way to provide no-cost private sewer lateral repairs to sewage backup-prone residences on the north side, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District will contribute $2.17 million to the City of Milwaukee, Alderman Willie C. Wade said. Alderman Wade is also a member of the MMSD commission, which on Monday approved the expenditure.
Residents in up to 449 homes west and south of Samuel Clemens School on W. Hope Ave. can sign up immediately to have the upgrades done to the sanitary laterals that connect their houses to street sewers.
The leakage of rainwater into these laterals was partly to blame for the backups that forced sewage into 280 basements during torrential downpours in July 2010.
Alderman Wade said, after repairs to city-owned sewer mains, inspecting and sealing leaky laterals is the next step in preventing future backups.
“I sincerely hope that residents in the seventh Aldermanic District will take advantage of this opportunity and volunteer their property for repairs,” Alderman Wade said.
“We’re very fortunate to be given the chance to have these upgrades done at no cost to homeowners, thanks in part to the MMSD commission agreeing to shoulder its share of the financial burden for the repairs.”
Residents within the plan area can contact Mr. Zafar Yousuf of the Department of Public Works Environmental
Engineering Division at 414-286-2467 to get questions answered or sign up. Engineers hope to enlist as many properties as possible before a construction contract is awarded in January.
Project boundaries essentially extend from N. 36th St. and the school on the east to N. 41st or N. 42nd St. on the west, and W. Capitol Drive on the south to W. Congress St. and Lincoln Creek on the north. Work is expected to begin on the upgrades in March and wrap up in October, depending on how many houses sign up.
Alderman Wade said the process for repairing the sewer laterals is low-impact, and does not require crews to enter residences.
Crews can insert a small camera from the street sewers to check the condition of a pipe.
If repairs are needed, they will bore a small hole into the lawn close to the house and use a robotic arm to push a lining into the lateral, which then adheres to the inside of the pipe and hardens.
With the $2.17 million in funds from the MMSD, the total cost of inspections and repairs is expected to run around $3.92 million, or $8,730.50 per house. MMSD’s contribution comes from a 10-year, $62 million regional program to upgrade residential laterals in the 28 communities within its service area.
As commissioners on the MMSD board, Alderman Wade and Wallace White initiated the original plan for the program in 2010. It eventually earned the support of the entire MMSD board.
“This was one of the parts of the city hardest hit by the sewage backups in 2010,” Alderman Wade said. “Every resident needs to do his or her part and sign up for these no-cost repairs, so we can try to prevent situations like that in the future.”
Bulawayo Mayor Thaba Moyo told the BBC the “big flush” would keep pipes wet and so prevent them getting clogged up.
A severe drought and years of poor maintenance have meant Bulawayo residents often go without running water for three days at a time.
The first synchronised flush took place at 19:30 local time (17:30 GMT).
Council workers had visited townships warning people that they risked a fine if they failed to take part.
Mr Moyo said the lack of water in the sewage pipes had already led some to burst.
Many of the city’s million residents are believed to have flushed at the appointed hour.
“I made sure my wife and children flushed the toilet at 19:30 to avoid blocking our own toilet. So far, the flushing of toilets was a success here in Cowdray Park township,” one resident, human rights activist Dumisani Mpofu, said.
According to the Associated Press, the synchronised flush will now take place at the same time twice a week – on Mondays and Thursdays – though residents will of course be able to flush their toilets at other times too.
The BBC’s Thabo Kunene, in Bulawayo, says that most houses in the city, even in townships, do possess toilets which flush, unlike in many African countries.
But he says that due to a lack of water, many people have been using buckets of water instead.
The proposal has had a mixed reception in the city.
“Our leaders are a joke,” said Petros Ncube. “What they should be doing is finding money from donors to buy new sewer pipes,” he said.