Durham County

Toilet smell funny? Close the lid on the Durham sewer blowback

People living downtown in the American Tobacco district should close their toilet lids for the next two months to avoid “blowback” from sewer cleaning work.

A news release Monday about the routine cleaning and inspections work in the city’s sanitary sewers said the process of “jetting” uses a pressurized water spray to clean sewer lines. It can cause “blowback” when excess air pressure is released through inadequately vented plumbing fixtures, officials said, “resulting in splashed water and foul odors.”

Crews also will use closed-circuit television to inspect pipes, remove jetted debris from and inspect manholes, use nontoxic dye to verify active sewer services and nontoxic smoke to test sewer infrastructure.

White smoke may be seen coming from manholes, drains and other structures during the testing, they said. The city’s contractor Hydostructures is expected to distribute information to residents at least seven days before any smoke testing begins.

While pedestrian and driveway access to buildings will be maintained at all times, the work also could affect traffic flow.

Affected lanes are on West Peabody Street; Gregson Street between West Main and Chapel Hill streets; Memorial Street; Burch Avenue; Duke Street between Chapel Hill and Memorial streets; Chapel Hill Street between William Vickers Avenue and Ramseur Street; William Vickers Avenue; and Jackson Street.

The city’s Department of Water Management will post periodic updates on its social media channels: http://durhamnc.gov/944; Durham Saves Water on Facebook; and @DurhamWater on Twitter.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

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