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Crews flush sewer lines looking for trouble spots

MADAWASKA, Maine — Public Works crews were out Tuesday, flushing the town’s main sewer lines as part of annual maintenance.

“We do it twice a year,” said Public Works Director Yves Lizotte. “Once in the spring and again in the fall. We try to find trouble spots before they get too big.”

Those trouble spots include blockages in the main line, which can cause backups into homes and businesses. By flushing water between manhole covers, workers can identify and then clean out blockages.

According to Lizotte, paper towels are a common, but by no means the only source of such blockages.

Crews with Madawaska’s Public Works Department use water to flush out a sewer line on Main Street on Tuesday to make sure there are no blockages. (Don Eno | SJVT/FhF)

“You’d be surprised what’s down there,” Lizotte said. “We find all kinds of stuff.”

In September, British engineers tackled an enormous plug of congealed fat and debris clogging London’s sewers, which was an estimated 250 yards long.

While Lizotte has not had to address problems of that magnitude, he reminded residents to be careful what they flush down their toilets and sinks.

“We find four or five blockages each time,” Lizotte said.

Public works crews maintain about 24 miles of main sewer lines within the town limits. They also maintain the storm drain system, which collects rain and snowmelt through the familiar square grates near the curb.

The stormwater and sewer systems are separate, Lizotte said. Crews flushed the storm drain lines a few weeks ago, he said.

Lizotte said the preventive maintenance also is required by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Aside from fall maintenance of sewer and stormwater lines, Lizotte’s public works staffers are preparing plow trucks and other equipment for winter.

“It’s that time of year,” the director said. “But, we’re ready for it.”

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