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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Two sewer lines breaks this week in Mason District

Workers install a temporary bypass system to remove flow from a damaged sewer pipe on Braddock Road to allow inspection and repairs. [DPWES]
There were two sewer line breaks in Mason District this week – one at Roundtree Park and one in Parklawn.

The first one occurred at Roundtree Park Monday evening when an eight-inch pipe carrying sewage from the bathrooms at the picnic shelter was damaged, and wastewater spilled into Cow Branch, a tributary of Holmes Run.

This is where the break occurred in Roundtree Park. [DPWES]
The Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services is still working on figuring how much sewage entered the streams. “There should be no lasting environmental impacts, as the bacterial dies off after a few days and the stream returns to normal,” said DPWE spokesperson Matthew Kaiser. “In the short term, the odor will persist for a few days.”

Signs of wastewater were observed a mile from the break. Residents of Lake Barcroft were notified, although a text message from Davis Grant, Lake Barcroft Watershed Improvement District manager, states, “we do not believe that there is any real risk to the community. If you would like to err on the side of caution, it may be best that you do not swim in the lake for the next 24 hours.”

The Roundtree Park bathrooms are closed. The fields and tennis courts remain open.

The break occurred where the pipe from the bathrooms crosses the stream and connects to another eight-inch line to the west of the baseball field. Kaiser said the break was caused by “a mixture of high stream flow and erosion.” When the pipe broke, a large stone was lodge in the pipe, which served to contain the spill within the creek. There was no residue along the banks.

“We have stopped all sources of sanitary sewage from entering the stream system and will begin repairs next week once we have collected all the necessary materials and formulated a plan,” he said. 

The other sewer line break, in the middle of Braddock Road at Arcadia Road on Sept. 4, was more of an inconvenience to residents, due to road closures, rather than a health risk. 

The new sewer pipe was installed this morning, Kaiser said. The northbound lane of  Braddock Road should be reopened later this afternoon, and all the restoration work should be completed tomorrow.

“There should not be lasting environmental impacts,” as the sewage outflow from the manhole was small and was cleaned up immediately, Kaiser said. There are no streams nearby.

“These breakages happen,” he says. Many of the pipes in that area are old and erosion makes them more vulnerable.

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