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Ventnor sewer main leak bypass to be installed early Saturday
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Ventnor sewer main leak bypass to be installed early Saturday


Work crews repair a sewer line break in a six-block section of Wellington Avenue between Dorset and Victoria avenues in Ventnor Heights on Monday.

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VENTNOR — A major step is scheduled to be taken early Saturday morning to determine the cause of the sewer main leak along Wellington Avenue.

A sewer bypass is scheduled to be installed at that time, said Richard S. Dovey, president of the Atlantic County Utilities Authority. Once the bypass is installed, the sewer flow that is leaking is expected to stop.

“We don’t know what the issue is. We think we know what the issue is,” said Dovey, who added the problem will be figured out by Saturday hopefully. “Then, we would spend the next couple of days repairing whatever is broken.”

The bypass process is technically difficult and is being done with equipment that had to be custom built in Texas, so that the diameter and the location it needed to be on the existing pipe would be correct, Dovey said, adding the bypass line would be in place for the next several weeks.

The sewage on the street was the more immediate concern, Dovey said.

“The state Department of Environmental Protection and the Atlantic County Health Department have been on the scene to take water samples and will continue to take water samples for the next couple of weeks,” he said.

Results from water sampling conducted Tuesday at six locations showed an elevated level of bacteria exceeding acceptable thresholds in three of the six locations tested, said Amy Cook-Menzel, ACUA communications manager. Following the activation of the bypass, subsequent testing will be performed to monitor water quality improvement.

As a precaution, the DEP’s suspension of shellfish harvesting from Lakes Bay remains in place until the area can be cleared as safe, Cook-Menzel said.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the ACUA pumped out all the sewage from nearby driveways, lawns and storm drains, Dovey said, adding there has been ongoing and extensive communication with the neighborhood.

The leak occurred where two pieces of pipe were fused together 25 years ago, he said.

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“The line has been totally replaced from the pumping station near the Ventnor School to Bader Field during the last 25 to 30 years,” Dovey said.

Once a determination is made as to why the leak occurred, a decision will be made about whether it could happen again hundreds of feet away from the original leak, he said.

Wellington Avenue was not built on the mainland or on an island, but on top of a marsh that acts like a giant sponge, absorbing everything, Dovey said.

“Wellington Avenue is always an issue,” said Dovey, who added the ACUA system was installed during the 1970s. “It fails there more than anywhere else in the system.”

ACUA staff continued their cleaning efforts, using two jet-vacs to clear residue from the break on the affected streets and sidewalks. Dudley Avenue, Suffolk Avenue, Victoria Avenue, Surrey Avenue and Wellington Avenue between Dudley and Oxford avenues were completed Friday.

After the bypass is installed, contractor Lafayette Utilities will purge the sinkhole at the break area and evaluate.

Future work will be as follows:

• The main at the break area will be repaired and tested.

• After the break has been repaired, the bypass will be removed.

• The Atlantic County Engineering Department will assess the road and convey the requirements for temporary and permanent restoration of the affected area.

• Until the temporary construction of the road is deemed safe, the detours around Wellington Avenue will remain in place, but routing around both the north and south sides of Wellington may be reopened.

• Completion of repairs is anticipated within four weeks.

Contact Vincent Jackson: 609-272-7202


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