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City looks for cause of West End sewer problem

The city of Clanton is hoping to smoke out the problem with the sewers in West End.

The city has hired a company to investigate how water is getting into, and backing up, the sewer system in the West End community. Part of the process will be to fill the sewers with smoke to detect leaks.

“We’re trying to find out how surface water is getting into the sewer lines,” Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver said. “It’s more than the lines can take, so it’s coming out of manholes. We’re trying to avoid it backing up into houses.”

The city will have a pre-construction conference on July 13 with the contractor that won the bid for the project (Insituform Technologies of Bessemer for $476,938), and then testing will take place in a section of the city from Liberty Street to 15th Street and from Second Avenue South to Fourth Avenue South.

The project will be paid for through a Community Development Block Grant.

Driver said the sewers have gotten gradually worse over the past decade, and the rainy winter forced the city to take action.

The problem could stem from several sources. When old houses are torn down, the sewer access must be sealed. Also, old houses included drains from the roof into the sewers. Sewers in the area run under creek beds in some places, or maybe some drainage pipe has a hole in it.

The smoke pumped into the sewers should reveal the problem areas. Driver said workers will, of course, scan the area for signs of leaks, but residents should be on the lookout, too.

“When they start smoking, that smoke could come up anywhere,” Driver said. “It could come up out of your toilet if it doesn’t have a good seal.”

Residents who notice problems should call city hall at 755-4051.