Commonwealth Journal

Local News

August 22, 2013

Stopping the Stink

Leaky manhole contaminated Town Springs

Somerset —

It appears that Somerset Utility personnel have sniffed out the source of a rather foul problem downtown. 
According to Charles Dick, manager of the city’s wastewater department, work on South Vine Street hit paydirt Wednesday, so to speak, when they found the hole through which sewage was escaping into the town springs, causing a pervasive smell throughout that part of town.
Workers had been preparing for several days to dig out an old manhole at the intersection of Vine and Spring Streets, right in front of the Cundiff Square commercial plaza — in the center of which is the original town springs, around which the community of Somerset was first formed.
“We had a really good idea (what the problem was), but once we dug the manhole out, that was the proof we needed,” said Dick. 
The problem was that the manhole was old — very old. It had deteriorated to the point that it had eroded a hole beneath it.
That hole opened up into a cave system through which the water flowed that fed the town springs, which opens into the air right there in the middle of Cundiff Square. The manhole was leaking through that hole, putting wayward sewage into the stream — and causing an awful smell.
“We had gotten complaints for quite a while now,” said Dick. “We thought we’d had it fixed about three or four weeks ago, and there was a period of about 45 days where the smell subsided.
“But,” he added, “the smell came back.”
Dick’s department had tagged the brick manhole as the likely culprit, but just needed to get in there to actually find the leak. Dick described it as a “four-way” manhole — sewage comes in from three directions and leaves in one, passing over the hole as it goes. 

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