Smoke to rise in Hayden area ... it’s only a test

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Diagram courtesy of Hayden Area Regional Sewer Board This diagram illustrates how the Hayden Area Regional Sewer Board will perform smoke testing Monday through Aug. 18 of its sewer lines to meet water quality standards.

HAYDEN — Where there's smoke there's sewer system testing.

That will be the case in the Hayden area during the weekdays starting Monday through Aug. 18 as the Hayden Area Regional Sewer Board (HARSB) performs smoke testing in its sewer lines to meet water quality standards.

The testing will be done in the Lock Haven area and various locations of the Hayden Lake Recreation Water and Sewer District (HLRWSD) to allow the board to find where leaks are in the system.

HARSB, which along with the cities of Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls discharge treated wastewater to the Spokane River, will be installing membranes to remove phosphorous from the water and meet water quality mandates.

"Until we understand where and what the leaks are, it is not possible to estimate repair costs," said Ken Windram, of HARSB. "But what we spend on leak repairs will reduce membrane purchase costs along with the operation and maintenance cost to treat rain water at the treatment plant."

This year the HARSB plant had high flows due to heavy rain. Currently the average plant influent flow is about 1 million gallons per day. "The plant influent flow increased to more than 2 million gallons per day during heavy rains due to leaks into the sewer system," Windram said.

To reduce rain flow into the sewer system, HARSB, the city of Hayden and the HLRWSD will conduct sewer system smoke testing.

During the testing, there will be workers in the street performing the smoke tests. Non-toxic smoke is blown into sewer system manholes.

"The smoke will have some mild odor — not sewer smell," Windram said. "The smoke will not leave residue."

Smoke will appear where the rain water can enter the system, and will dissipate in less than an hour. The smoke locations will be marked and repairs will be made to eliminate the leaks.

Smoke testing is done by many municipal sewer systems to locate where rain water enters, Windram said.

Pink door hangers will be placed on the doors of homes near where the testing will be done.

For more information, call HARSB at 691-6593.

Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls are not planning to smoke test their sewer systems.

"The increased flows Post Falls observed with this recent wet spring and snowy winter were significantly less dramatic than the two-to-one increase described by HARSB," said John Beacham, Post Falls environmental manager.

Mike Anderson, Coeur d'Alene's wastewater superintendent, said that city performed smoke tests from 2002 to 2006.

"We are currently utilizing flow meters and occasional dye testing to further detect any problem areas in our system," Anderson said.

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