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PHOTO: Salty sewers? Winter’s residue builds up beneath the streets

Snow on the roads this morning makes traveling treacherous, but what’s going on below the surface?

Our Sewer System Maintenance and Operation crews inspect sewers all year round, and during periods of road salting and deicing, the calcium deposits in sewers can build up quickly. In the above photo from 2009, calcium build-up in this sewer—along I-490 near West 17th Street, an area we inspected upon request—posed a big risk for potential blockages and back-ups.

Our crews remove these deposits, and preventative-maintenance schedules allow us to routinely inspect problem areas to manage them throughout the winter. A deposit of this size is very rare.

If salt deposits are affecting the flow in sewers, it’s also affecting the water quality reaching our treatment plants. Our plant operators know what to expect and adjust our treatment processes accordingly during the winter season.