Notice of Smoke Testing Project

Posted by City Hall on Sep 10, 2021

When: September 13 - 17, 2021

Where: In Vernonia City Limits with specific targeted areas happening first (See Attached Map HERE)

Why: The program objective is to remove stormwater sources from the sanitary sewer system, keep wastewater treatment costs and sanitary sewer rates low, and protect the environment.

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that The City of Vernonia is in the process of implementing an Inflow/Infiltration (I/I) Reduction Program and is planning to start sanitary smoke testing during the week of September 13th- 17th. The program objective is to remove stormwater sources from the sanitary sewer system, keep wastewater treatment costs and sanitary sewer rates low, and protect the environment.

Smoke Testing is a standard method of detecting sewer defects and stormwater cross-connections to the sanitary sewer system. Smoke testing consists of placing a high-capacity blower on top of a sanitary sewer manhole and forcing “smoke” down into the sewer system. The smoke, under pressure from the blower, travels through the sewer system and escapes through any connection, cracks, leaks, etc., along the way. This quickly reveals sources of I/I within the study area.

The Vernonia Public Works Department, accompanied by a contractor, will be performing the smoke testing and all personnel will have proper identification and vehicles marked. The smoke used for smoke testing is non-toxic, non-hazardous, and is manufactured specifically for this purpose. It leaves no residue, stains, and has no effect on plants or animals. The smoke should not enter your building, but if it does, it will have a distinct odor and should only last a few minutes with proper ventilation.

Both the Vernonia Rural Fire Department and the Vernonia Police Department will be made aware of the smoke testing project areas and schedule.

Please note, all plumbing fixtures drain traps must be filled with water prior to smoke testing. Please perform the following tasks to ensure smoke does not enter your home:

* Make sure all drain traps and plumbing fixtures have water in them. Fill seldom used drains (such as floor drains, garage sinks, etc.) with water by running the faucet for 30 to 60 seconds or filling the drain with approximately 3 cups of water.

* Prepare drains as soon as you receive this smoke testing notice, this only needs to be done once before testing begins.

* You do not need to be home during the smoke testing field work.

* Smoke should not enter your home; however, if it does this could be an indication of a defect in your plumbing system. This defect could allow sewer gases to enter inside your home, which is a potential health hazard. Corrections of such defects on private property are the responsibility of the property owner, and a licensed plumber should be consulted to ensure the proper corrections are made.

The information gathered during the smoke testing project will be used to create a prioritized plan to reduce I/I impacts to the sanitary sewer system. Sewer defects will likely exist on both public and private property and will need to be corrected in a timely manner. After the smoke testing is complete, notices will be sent to those property owners that need to make corrections. Often, it can be as simple as removing a connected roof downspout and diverting the stormwater to appropriate stormwater infrastructure or replacing a broken or missing lateral cleanout cap in your yard. The City will assist homeowners in determining the best approach in disconnecting I/I sources and rerouting storm drainage. Reducing I/I will help lower sanitary sewer rate charges, while also protecting the environment.

We appreciate your patience and understanding and will make every effort to minimize the inconvenience or disruptions this project may cause.

If you have any further questions or concerns regarding smoke testing, please contact City Hall at (503) 429-5291 or Public Works (503)429-6921.