Department of Public Works

Public Works' Statement on Sanitary Sewer Overflow Event


22 MAY 2018


On May 21, 2018 at approximately 8:30PM, we received reports of a possible water main break at Southwind and Oakbeach Drive. Upon examination, our on-call team determined that it was a sanitary sewer overflow event, causing sewage to surface at street level. Our crew used a Vactor to remove as much debris as possible overnight with additional clean up work occurring during the day today (5/22).

The sewer plug led to a small amount of sewage reaching a downstream stormwater drain which discharges into one or more settling bays at a nearby constructed wetland that are adjacent to Lake Champlain. Given the timing of the issue, the size of the sanitary collection system, and evidence at the site, we estimate the discharge to be less than 500 gallons. We have not found any indication that any effluent was discharged into Lake Champlain. In order to minimize any risk to human health, the Water Resources team took the following steps:

  • Added lime to the discharged water to raise the pH level and kill bacteria.

  • We have tested both at the receiving wetland and at the outlet into Lake Champlain.Test results will be ready in approximately 24 hours.

  • In accordance with Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) procedures and to further minimize any risk of contact, we have also notified stakeholders, DEC and posted signs closing adjacent beaches for 48 hours.

The sanitary sewer overflow was apparently caused by the City’s paving sub-contractor activities. In the course of the contractor’s work, a protective plate over a manhole was inadvertently knocked off allowing asphalt, sediment and debris to enter and clog the sewer line, leading sewage to backup. The City will bill the contractor for the repair and clean-up costs.  Additionally, we have reminded our contractor and City staff that contractors must notify Public Works and allow City staff to inspect when there is any suspicion of debris (sediment, bricks, asphalt, concrete etc) having entered our collection system (storm system, sewer pipes, sewer or storm manholes).   

We do not believe there is any risk to public health or to Lake Champlain and have outlined the above steps out of an abundance of caution. If you have any concerns about water quality, please call our 24/7 line at 802-863-4501.


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Public Works Department