Council awards contract for evaluation of sanitary sewer system

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The borough has been designated a Healthy Town by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute for the second time since the program’s inception. (MARK R. SULLIVAN/THE OCEAN STAR)

BAY HEAD — The borough council has awarded a $112,500 contract to the O’Donnell Stanton & Associates engineering firm to evaluate the borough’s sanitary sewer system. 

It’s part of a multi-phase project aimed at preventing the infiltration of groundwater and stormwater – which don’t need treatment the way raw sewage does – into Bay Head’s sanitary sewers each year.

“The amount of the sewage flow that is being transmitted to the Ocean County Utilities Authority [OCUA] has skyrocketed” because of increased rainfall over the past few years, Borough Administrator Chris Parlow told the governing body during its Feb. 1 meeting.

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In recent years, the flow has increased from around 100 million gallons to as much as 130 million gallons, which is significant, Mr. Parlow said. Bay Head pays OCUA about $4,000 per million gallons of sewage sent over, he said.

Last year, the engineer submitted a report in which he estimated that more than 75 percent of the flow from Bay Head being treated at OCUA is infiltration water, Mr. Parlow said. “That is a huge amount … it is troublesome.”

The next phase of the project includes cleaning the entire system, which hasn’t been done in years, Mr. Parlow said.

“Bay Head’s sewer system is primarily made of terracotta pipe and the age of that is somewhere between 70 and 100 years old … and back when it was installed, infiltration into the system wasn’t really a problem, because most of your raw sewage was actually disposed of in the ocean, so it didn’t really matter if the pipes were leaking back then,” he said.

According to Mr. Parlow, a lot of work and a lot of capital will need to go into making repairs. 

“In most cases, the terracotta pipe can be relined. They run a sleeve inside the terracotta pipe and the sleeve hardens and it almost creates a new sewer pipe. Now, why do you do that? Well, if you have to rip up mains, you also have to rip up roads and you try not to rip up roads as much as possible. You rather try to reline,” he said.

“It is going to be a huge commitment from the town to get this right, but I believe that the savings you will incur because you are reducing the infiltration and inflow will more than pay off the amount of capital cost to fix it, and obviously I think we would all rather see a better infrastructure system in place rather than just spending money on treating groundwater,” he said.

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