News Briefs: Century-Old Main Breaks in Portland, Floods Neighborhood

Also in this week's sewer and water news, New York City unveils an ad campaign to combat unflushable debris and fatbergs

A century-old 30-inch cast iron water transmission main recently burst in Portland, Oregon, leaving some streets in the northeast part of the city flooded with millions of gallons of water.

Officials from Portland Fire & Rescue tell Willamette Week the pipe was leaking water at 1 million gpm.

The pipe was first installed in 1915, and its age was a factor in the break, according to a Portland Water Bureau spokesperson. Workers fought the significant flow of water in an effort to excavate and replace the pipe.

“We have continued to make gains against water flow, but more is needed,” Maintenance and Construction Director Ty Kovatch recently said in a statement. “The work will take time. We will get it done!”

Get a look at the flow coming out of this broken main below in a video posted by a resident on Twitter:

USGS Study Finds Human Waste Contaminating Milwaukee Streams

Two types of human-associated bacteria and three types of human viruses recently were detected in Milwaukee streams within the Menomonee River watershed, according to a study led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Leaky infrastructure and overflows from sanitary sewers can contaminate urban waterways, and the detection of human-associated bacteria and viruses indicates the presence of sewage, a potential health hazard,” says Peter Lenaker, a USGS scientist and the lead author of the study. “Results from our study can help Milwaukee-area water managers develop strategies to efficiently remediate or minimize sewage contamination.”

From 2009-2011, scientists with the USGS, U.S. Department of Agriculture and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee sampled surface water from six Menomonee River stream locations in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to measure human sewage contamination in the watershed. The scientists collected samples during periods of high water flow from rain, snowmelt or both, and periods of low water flow. They tested 228 samples for eight types of human viruses and for two types of bacteria that are associated with human waste.

The study found that human viruses were present in up to 38 percent of the samples and human bacteria were present much more frequently in the samples.

The three viruses detected in the study were adenovirus C, D, F, which was the most common and can cause minor respiratory illnesses; adenovirus A; and enterovirus, which can cause symptoms similar to the common cold. The scientists found at least one of these viruses in 20 to 73 percent of samples during low water flows and in 24 to 61 percent of samples during high-flow events, depending on sampling location.

New York City Unveils Ad Campaign Against Wipes, Fatbergs

A new ad campaign is making its way around New York City that warns residents about the impacts fatbergs have on city wastewater infrastructure. The “Trash It, Don’t Flush It” advertisements reference the fact that the city spends $19 million in taxpayer’s money every year hauling unflushable debris to landfills.

“This campaign will help to raise awareness of this important issue and remind New Yorkers to dispose of trash where it belongs — in a trash can,” DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza tells NBC4 News. Here's a look at the flyer being hung around the city:


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