Smoke Tests Confusing Evansville Residents

By: Drew Gardner

Sewer testing is causing some confusion in Evansville. The Water and Sewer Utility Department is performing smoke testing to look for leaks in the sanitary sewer system. Its all apart of the city’s lawsuit settlement with the EPA.
At first glance the smoke may look like a sign of trouble, but its really helping the city correct a major problem that has plagued the area for years.
Deputy Director of Utility Engineering, Michael Labitzke says, “Essentially if smoke can come out that can mean water can come in during a rain event.”
That storm water entering the sanitary water system was a direct violation of the Clean Water Act. In a settlement last year with the EPA the city agreed to make the upgrades necessary to comply.
“It requires us to perform this on 20% of our sanitary sewer systems every year.”
Crews are pumping the sanitary sewer system with smoke and looking for leaks in the ground like this one, but the smoke is also casing a lot of confusion for some homeowners.
“If the plumbing is hooked up correctly the smoke that people see will strictly be coming out of their vent pipes.”
If there are leaks in the plumbing that smoke can end up filling people’s homes.
“The smoke is harmless. Its odorless, tasteless, stainless, its safe for this type of operation.”
Safe or not, many homeowners are calling 911 thinking their homes are on fire leading to many false runs for the fire department.
Crews say if you see smoke coming from your plumbing you should first check your door for a yellow flier from Hydromax, the company performing the tests, and call the number at the bottom. (That number is 812-987-1551)
“In most cases the crew should not be farther than 600-800 feet away from wherever you are experiencing the smoke.”
The smoke testing is not only for the city, residents outside the immediate city limits can expect to see the testing their neighborhoods as well.
The city will perform the smoke tests for the next 5 years. After that it will have to repeat the tests every ten years.

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