The city's sanitary sewer department is looking at one Clintonville neighborhood to try out a fix for overflowing sanitary sewer lines.

The city's sanitary sewer department is looking at one Clintonville neighborhood to try out a fix for overflowing sanitary sewer lines.

"When you get a big rain, it really swells our intake in the sanitary systems," said George Zonders, spokesman for the Columbus Department of Public Utilities. "It just overwhelms the sanitary system. You see water gushing, not just out of manholes, but out of points along the river that we don't want it to."

The city has been studying that problem since 1990, Zonders said, and eventually identified older, leaking sanitary lines as the cause.

To combat that, the city spent $31-million in Clintonville alone to line primary sanitary lines to prevent them from picking up storm water.

On follow-up investigation, the city found the problem persisted, Zonders said. The problem, officials believe, is that lateral lines going to older homes are leaking as well.

To solve that problem, the city plans to place cameras in residential sanitary pipes to find and fix leaks.

The city plans to kick off the program in July, spending $1.2-million in the Clintonville neighborhood west of North High Street along Sheffield and Weisheimer roads.

"We have a big enough issue that we're going to try this," Zonders said.

The city has asked residents in that area to participate on a voluntary basis, and around 100 homeowners have agreed, he said.

Fixing lines will cause some disruption to residents' properties because there aren't clear access points to the lateral sanitary lines, Zonders said. But the city is committed to digging as little as possible and to repairing yards as needed.

Once the lines in that area are repaired, the city again will check the flow of sanitary sewer lines when it rains to see if the program has made an impact before taking it to other parts of the city, Zonders said.

"There probably will be a lot of follow-up on this to see if we want to do this in other areas where it's a problem," he said. "There's obviously some optimism that this will work."

In Clintonville, the other neighborhood that sees sanitary sewer overflow problems is in the Walhalla Ravine area, Zonders said.

The city's ultimate goal in identifying neighborhoods with problems and fixing leaky lines, Zonders said, is to eliminate all other types of water from sanitary sewer lines.

The public utilities department is willing to try new methods to do so.

"We've not tried to do something like this before," he said. "We're trying to think outside the box and prevent overflow."

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com

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