City of Eugene crews will use smoke to inspect sewer lines.
Eugene workers will put smoke in their pipes and test them beginning today.
As part of its regular testing and inspection program, public works crews will begin checking sewer lines in several parts of the city to track down any leaks or damage. One way they do that is using smoke, along with closed-circuit television cameras and dyes.
The coming work will scope out the wastewater system in the far west, Whiteaker, west university, downtown and Jefferson west side neighborhoods. It will take several months for all the testing to be completed.
An approved technique for tracking down leaks and damaged pipes is to blow smoke into sewer lines. Crews then use the television cameras to see where the smoke exits the pipes, with smoke coming from the ground generally indicating a cracked or damaged pipe below.
Smoke testing is approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and the city says the white smoke is non-toxic, does not harm plants or animals, and quickly dissipates without any residue or stains left behind. Door hangers are distributed one or two days in advance in areas where the testing will take place.
Locating and repairing damaged sewer pipes helps keep groundwater and stormwater from getting into the pipes. Such infiltration can overload the wastewater collection and treatment system, which isn't designed to handle the additional volume.
If the testing points to a problem in the city system, the pipes are repaired as soon as possible. If the damage is extensive, they are added to the city's capital repair program.
If damage is found in privately owned pipes, such as the section running from a home or business to the city line, the property owner is notified and advised to make repairs. But if testing turns up an illegal connection, such as a roof drain connected directly to the sewer line, the property owner is required to correct the problem.
Residents with questions about the smoke testing program can contact the city's public works maintenance division at 541-682-4800.