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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sewage incident in Falls Church area

Greenway Downs Park, with the creek in the background. [Google Maps]

Residents have been warned to stay out of a small creek that runs along Custis Parkway in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County following a break in a sewer line.

According to Mansker, someone who lives across the street from the creek noticed a substance getting into the creek that smelled like sewage and contacted the county, says Bob Mansker, president of the Greenway Downs Citizens Association

He says county staff responded immediately and put up tape and signs July 30 urging people to stay away from the area. The creek, in the median in the middle of Custis Parkway, feeds into Tripps Run and, ultimately, into Lake Barcroft.

The problem was a sewer line that collapsed on private property at 6830 Custis Parkway, says Irene Haske, spokesperson for the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. She says staff from the wastewater management division vacuumed up the sewage and cleaned, flushed, and deodorized the county sewer line before the sewage reached the creek or Greenway Downs Park.

The county health department, code enforcement department, and park authority were notified about the incident, Haske says, and, “because there is no sanitary sewer facility at the address, the residents were asked to leave the house until repairs are made to their line.”

Sewer lines on private property – between a home and the edge of the property line – are the responsibility of the homeowner, and repairs can be costly, she says. The older the home, the more likely a break can occur, especially if the sewer line is affected by tree roots or clogged with anything other than water.

The county is planning a public education campaign warning residents not to flush things like diapers or wet naps in toilets or dispose of leftover food – especially meat or high-fat items – down sinks. Fatty food solidifies in cold weather and can cause sewage backups into a house.

Anyone who detects a sewage odor is urged to call the county’s 24-hour wastewater trouble response center, 703-323-1211.  

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