The geyser spewing from that busted pipe in Metairie could take days to fix; here’s why | Environment

The broken sewer pipe that has been spewing water and sewage on West Napoleon Avenue in Metairie since Wednesday may take days to fix, Jefferson Parish officials said Thursday.

Crews can only work at night when sewage flow is low, and Mark Drewes, the community’s public works director, said the workers have not yet been able to determine the size of the burst pipe. Without knowing, they cannot tell how long it will take to fix the problem.

Until then, water and sewage will be channeled into the West Napoleon Canal like a small river in a Thursday before it finally flows to Lake Pontchatrain.

Until a temporary solution can be put in place, traffic will be diverted east on West Napoleon around the break between Transcontinental Drive and Clearview Parkway.

The break in the 66-inch main pipe was caused by the heavy rains on Tuesday and Wednesday which, although not intended, infiltrated the sewer system and overwhelmed a stain on that piece of pipe, Drewes said.

What’s flowing out of the pipe now is likely 95% rainwater and 5% sewage, Drews said.

The pipe is due for permanent repair, but community officials are waiting for specially made parts for the repairs to take place. While waiting, the temporary patch was overwhelmed by torrents that were perhaps six times normal due to the heavy rains, Drewes said.

Videos posted on social media on Wednesday showed water gushing several feet in the air as it gushed out of a hole throughout the day.

Thursday’s weather will have an impact on how quickly a new repair can be done, Drewes said. If there is not much rain in the area, the levels in the pipe can drop so far that the work can be carried out on Thursday evenings. But if the water level doesn’t go down, work could drag on into the following nights, he said.

Before workers even start a repair, they need to dig it out and find out how big the break is. If a permanent repair is made, they plan to replace a 20 foot section of the pipe with a newer pipe and the specially made fittings to join the new and old pipe sections.

“We may not be able to complete the temporary repair tonight,” he said. “It just depends on the severity.”

Much of Jefferson’s drainage and sewage infrastructure was built in the 1950s and 1960s, Drewes said. This allows more rainwater to enter the old system and cause larger ruptures, he said.

On March 20, the parish voters approved by a large margin the continuation of the drainage and sewage mills. The community had said the millages were needed to fund improvements to the systems.

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