BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The township Sewage Maintenance Superintendent Tom McAndrew presented a program to be implemented to resolve issues with clogged sewage lines throughout the township at this week's Township Council meeting.

Residents have made the township aware of areas that need to be addressed.  "There is a section of Briarwood that is really having some major problems," said Mayor Joe Bruno.  

"Some point in the future we are hopeful to identify problems. Identification is phase one of a several step process. Identify what and where the problems are and then develop a plan to most effectively repair," said McAndrew.

Sign Up for E-News

With Berkeley Heights being mostly residential in nature, McAndrew recommends a plan to clean and maintain the pipes in a three year cycle.

McAndrew will implement an inspection schedule commencing where they have identified areas of concern.  He recommends starting on the south east side of town, moving west from there. McAndrew anticipates the plan to be 1,800 man hours a year with a significant amount of overtime. 

"We did a demonstration and identified a grease issue," said McAndrew.  The nozzle that was demonstrated is impressive for grease build up, roots and debris. It operates with a hose that is dropped inside a man hole and the pressure will elevate the clog up the pipe.  The equipment is maintenance free.  A rover and camera system would document the inspections.

The cleaning and grease trap inspection program currently being implemented works in conjunction with the Sewer Department and Health Inspector.  The drop-in inspections will occur three times a year to sample and test the parameters to make sure the businesses are in compliance. 
McAndrew summarized that they have initiated the cleaning and inspection program.  He would like to pursue a public education program to mitigate future problems including providing information on residential use of sump pumps and disposal of grease.
"The sewage lines have not been cleaned in 16 years, I would recommend when this budget is passed tonight, the first piece of equipment we should purchase is the nozzle," said Bruno. The nozzle can be used for storm draines as well said township engineer Bob Bocchino.
"The problem is important enough to bring to the Council," said Administrator Linda Cavanaugh. "This is a long term plan. I know what we want to do, I know what Mike Marceau [Township Treasurer] says we can afford to do -- and there is a gap." 
"This is something that we need to put as a priority. Recognize that this is a town wide problem," said Cavanaugh. The problem at Briarwood has grown due to change of weather patterns, the sewers are more and more clogged -- and their situation is getting worse, said Cavanaugh.
"We will have to do the whole town and we can't wait another 16 years. It will be one of those ongoing maintenance issues that we need to address. It will cost us money and we may need to hire extra sewer workers," said Bruno.
There's a substantial period of time that the town has neglected itself, so to speak, said Councilman Bob Woodruff.  "And we can't walk it back and we can't ignore it. We will have to be creative and innovative," said Woodruff. "Ms. Cavanaugh is right, it will require an extreme look by us because we are not walking away from this." 
The recent rain storm measured 6.2 inches in a 24 hour period of time had the sewage plant operating at 300% above permitted. "We were near capacity. On a normal day, we are at 50% capacity," said McAndrew.