Cracked Force Main


A homeowner observed water bubbling out of the ground near his house and reported the problem to the department of public works.  The water had a strong odor and testing showed high bacteria levels (E. Coli).  After it bubbled out of the ground, the water would flow into a nearby storm drain before discharging to a tributary of the Winooski River.  City staff investigated the problem and determined that a nearby sanitary sewer pipe had cracked.  The force main was several feet below ground, but pressure from the pump was causing the water to bubble to the ground surface. This posed both a public health risk and a threat to the environment.

Bubbling wastewater and stormdrain
Wastewater bubbling to the surface and flowing into a stormdrain



City staff excavated down to the pipe. After careful examination, it was determined that the line could be repaired in place. Once the repair had taken place, the line was tested to ensure that there were no additional leaks or cracks. The area was then back filled, seeded, and mulched.

Repaired sewer line
Repaired 2″ sewer line underneath stormwater piping


Since the repair, no additional wastewater has been observed bubbling to the surface. Subsequent testing has shown reduced E. Coli levels in the storm drain.


Summer 2007

Last Updated: 11/2009