Cleveland Utilities crews and their Utility Technologies contractor this week are bringing smoke signals to at least 18 more residential areas as the latest smoke-testing phase of a vast sewer rehabilitation campaign nears its conclusion.
SCOPE 10, by now a familiar acronym to most which stands for “Strategic Commitment to Protect the Environment,” is a decade-long initiative whose aim is to eliminate — or at least greatly reduce — the amount of inflow and infiltration getting into CU’s existing wastewater lines.
Smoke testing is an integral preliminary phase in the process.
At a cost of about $30 million, SCOPE 10 is also a proactive move by the local utility to prevent overflows that, if left unchecked, can become serious public hazards. Depending on the frequency of these events, which mostly occur during periods of heavy rainfall, the overflows could become violations of the local utility’s NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit if not corrected.
Such issues could result in mandatory sewer moratoriums as ordered by the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation and the federal-level Environmental Protection Agency. Sewer moratoriums mean no more connections to the affected wastewater lines, and this would jeopardize future construction and economic development growth; at least, until the NPDES violations are resolved.
Smoke-testing crews are among the first line of tools used to identify defective sewer lines. Technicians have been conducting smoke tests for the past year.
“The smoke testing crews will be continuing their work this week,” according to Greg Clark, CU wastewater rehabilitation manager who is heading up the comprehensive SCOPE 10 project. “Weather permitting, [we] should complete smoke testing this week.”
Streets expected to be impacted by smoke testing over the next few days include, in the order in which they are listed: Key Street, Terrace Avenue, Crown Street, Travis Street, Peerless Road, Davis Drive, Woodmore Lane, Glenmore Drive, Greenwood Trail, Maple Drive, Hilltop Drive, Keith Street, 25th Street, Sahara Drive, Raider Drive, Peerless Crossing, Harris Circle and Edgewater Drive.
Residents who are at home at the time of the smoke testing, or at their businesses, can expect to see smoke escape through vent stacks on the roof of their houses or businesses, Clark explained.
“This is a sign that the building’s plumbing is properly installed,” he said. Although it’s a reminder he has made often over the past year, Clark stressed it’s a CU priority to keep area residents informed about the SCOPE 10 project, the accompanying smoke testing and other future activities surrounding the complicated project.
He aso pointed out the smoke used is made specifically for this purpose. It appears white and offers a slight odor of mineral oil. It is not a fire hazard, leaves no residue and is non-toxic; however, it may cause minor throat irritation if inhaled in quantity. Residents with respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory infections should leave their residence if smoke should enter their home, Clark cautioned.
CU continues to invite area residents in impacted neighborhoods to contact the utility or the Utility Technologies project manager (Brad Miller at 423-584-3529) if they have questions. Residents may also contact the CU Water Division at 423-478-9387. Once crews are working in their neighborhoods, residents are also invited to approach workers to address concerns, ask questions or to request proper identification, Clark explained.
“As SCOPE 10 progresses, Cleveland Utilities will continue to get out the word and to keep the community aware of what we’re doing, and most importantly, why we’re doing it,” Clark said.