Vail sewer system will be tested with smoke |

Vail sewer system will be tested with smoke

Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District will use smoke to test sections of its Vail sewer collection system beginning at 8 a.m. on Tuesday and, if needed, Wednesday. Areas to be tested include sewer mains in Lionshead, Vail Village and Golden Peak.

Smoke testing is an effective, economical way to pinpoint where storm water, which should not be in the sanitary sewer system, is entering the system, according to the district. After recent, intense storms, sewage flow into the Vail wastewater treatment plant has rapidly and drastically increased, indicating infiltration into the sewer collection system. Sewage flows that contain large amounts of storm water can disrupt normal plant treatment processes and, if not mitigated, could result in costly treatment plant upgrades to treat the extra flow. The district is trying to identify and reduce storm-water flow to its three wastewater treatment plants.

A zinc chloride type smoke, preferred by the Environmental Protection Agency, is used in the testing. The smoke is grayish-white and leaves no visible residue. To conduct the tests, the smoke is mixed with large volumes of air and pumped through one section of the sewer system at a time, from manhole to manhole. District and contractor staff will monitor each sewer main section.

Anyone who notices smoke entering their premises during testing should contact the district. One way that smoke can accidentally enter premises is through floor drains that have empty “p-trap” pipes. As a precautionary measure, a small amount of water should be poured into floor drains prior to the test.

Millions of feet of sewer line have been tested using this method, and fewer than 1 percent of residences and businesses have had smoke enter buildings during testing, according to the district. However, persons suffering from lung ailments may wish to make arrangements to be contacted by the district to vacate the premises for a short time during testing as an added precaution.

For more information, call Becky Peterson, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District Capital Improvement Program, at 970-477-5425 or visit

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