New Kid's View

Family lured Jerrianne and her husband to South Milwaukee in 2002 from Southern California where she worked as, first, a journalist, then, as a court information officer. She now stays busy with media-relations consulting, playing with her three grandchildren (part of the lure), writing, discovering her new environs, and hoping her garden will produce before the first fall frost.

What about SoMke leaks in home laterals?

Storms, rain, flood, sewers, sewage, Wauwatosa

Neighbor Ron asks a good question:

Interesting article ..... is anything like this being planned for South Milwaukee? 

Tosa sewer test finds big leaks in home laterals

Heavy flow surprises city engineer

Four times more storm water leaked into privately owned sanitary sewer laterals of homes in several Wauwatosa neighborhoods than into the municipal sanitary sewers beneath the streets during a recent study simulating a minor storm, a Wauwatosa city official and a consultant said Thursday.

The surprising volumes of clear storm water flowing out of the private laterals - a total of 380 gallons a minute from a group of homes along Ravenswood Circle - shows the need for all communities in the metropolitan area to identify and help fix leaking private sewers, City Engineer Bill Wehrley said.

Clean water flowing into laterals draining to sanitary sewers during rainstorms can quickly fill the pipes, causing sewage to back into basements.

"If 20% of our problem is from public sewers and we fix that, then 80% of our problem still looms out there," Wehrley said.

After severe flooding and widespread basement backups July 22, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has proposed spending $150 million in the next 10 years to inspect and help repair private laterals in the 28 communities served by the district. The district's commission will discuss the plan later this year as part of its 2011 budget process.

A preliminary plan would allocate $8 million to the program in 2011 and then boost spending to $25 million in 2012 when most communities likely would have projects under way, MMSD acting controller and treasurer Mark Kaminski said. A total of $100 million would be allocated by 2016, under this financing strategy with a goal of providing two-thirds of the funds in the first several years.

Last month, the commission hired a Chicago company to televise up to 6,000 private laterals in the next 12 months within communities that ask for the help. National Power Rodding Corp. will be paid nearly $3.85 million to inspect and clean each lateral, cut and remove tree roots, and note all defects.

The program is voluntary. Communities can choose whether they want to participate. Televising of a private lateral would be done only with permission of the property owner.

In the Wauwatosa study, tests detected leaks in fully 80% of the private laterals crossing beneath storm sewers in two neighborhoods, according to Chris Stamborski, an engineer with the consulting firm of R.A. Smith National.

Wauwatosa hired R.A. Smith to flood storm sewers in the two neighborhoods with green-dyed water and to document with cameras whether the colored water leaked into sanitary sewers or flowed out of laterals connected to those sewers, Stamborski said Thursday at a meeting of municipal public works officials.

Leak volumes from the private laterals would have been much greater during torrential rains experienced in July of this year, he said.

Fixing the problem will not be inexpensive.

Laterals could be replaced or the inside of pipes could be lined to stop leaks, depending on their conditions. Lining a home's lateral would cost an estimated $5,000 for 60 to 80 feet of pipe, Stamborski said.

Anger in Milwaukee

In other action Thursday related to the July flooding, a dozen Milwaukee residents gathered at City Hall and demanded the mayor and Common Council schedule special hearing to answer the questions residents have about the sewage backup that damaged their homes.

Organizers of the group Taxpayers Fed Up said the city has not offered adequate answers or assistance to the hundreds of residents who suffered property damage.

According to city officials, the criticism ignores the numerous meetings that aldermen have hosted, the task force created by the Common Council to investigate the failure of the sewer system, the cleanup assistance organized by the city and a program established to offer foreclosed homes to flood victims for $1.

In addition, the mayor and the governor have continued to push the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide cash assistance to residents who sustained property damage.

Federal officials denied the state's request for individual assistance to be awarded to residents in Milwaukee, Grant and Waukesha counties. After appeals from local officials, FEMA teams returned to Milwaukee to assess the damage. The appeal for individual assistance is being reviewed by FEMA.

Tom Held of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

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