Man o' War outer loop to be closed until 6 a.m. Thursday while sewer repairs continue

jwarren@herald-leader.comMay 21, 2014 

Lexington work crews were trying Wednesday afternoon to determine the best way to repair a collapsed sewer line that released an undetermined amount of sewage into a small stream.

A section of the 24-inch sewer line, which serves the Rapid Run subdivision area, collapsed late Sunday afternoon near Man o' War Boulevard and Rapid Run Drive. City officials said the outer loop of Man o' War, between Crosby Drive and Rapid Run, will be blocked until 6 a.m. Thursday while they repair the line.

No sewage backed up into homes, Mark York, spokesman for the Lexington Division of Environmental Policy, said Wednesday.

That sewer line collapsed Sunday, causing sewage to back up in the line and be released through two sanitary sewer manholes inside Man o' War Boulevard, York said. Some of the sewage ultimately wound up in a small unnamed tributary of Hickman Creek that runs under Man o' War, he said.

A bypass line, installed around the break early Tuesday afternoon, kept additional sewage from leaking.

"The main thing was to get the bypass working, and it is working fine. ... No more sewage is getting out into the environment," York said. "Contractors have excavated around the break, and now they're working with our folks to figure out the best solution."

York said he had no estimate on how much sewage escaped. The city has notified the Kentucky Energy and Environmental Cabinet about the break, he said.

"It is a violation whenever we have sanitary sewage that gets out of the system, so we reported to the state that we had a problem and what our response was," York said.

On Wednesday, workers were cleaning out a pond near the Racquet Club apartment complex where some sewage collected.

"When the sewage came out, it went down a small creek, into a storm drain, and into the apartment complex pond," York said. "We have crews on site that have been pumping it down, and now they are cleaning out the pond."

York said sewage from the original collapse found its way into the apartment complex's pond, then went over the pond's spillway. It then headed toward the Hartland subdivision and toward Hickman Creek in the Tates Creek Road area, he said.

York said it was unclear whether any sewage reached Hickman Creek. He said workers did install aerators in the Hickman Creek tributary to raise dissolved oxygen levels in the water and help protect aquatic life.

Officials don't know what caused the collapse in the sewer line. York said the line could have been in place since the 1980s, about the time Man o' War Boulevard was built.

City officials said large pumps, placed in the Gar Court-Niagara Drive area, are diverting wastewater from the collapsed portion of the sewer line into an 18-inch bypass that runs about 700 feet from inside Man o' War, under the roadway and into a sanitary sewer manhole.

"All of the sewage is now contained in the sewer system," he said.

City officials said that with the bypass in place, workers can now examine the damaged sewer line and determine what kind of repairs are needed. One possible repair might be placing a liner inside the collapsed line, York said. No decision had been made as of mid-afternoon Wednesday.

"We're going to move with our folks and our contractor to figure out the best solution as quickly as possible," York said.

Jim Warren (859) 231-3255. Twitter: @heraldleader.

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