As residents have undoubtedly noticed, Piscataway Hills was among the first neighborhoods to be affected by a huge sewer life extension project now being implemented by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.
Called the Piscataway Creek Basin Sanitary Sewer Repair, Replacement, and Rehabilitation Program (or “SR3” in WSSC jargon), the project started at the beginning of 2013 and is to be completed by the end of 2015. The first phase will replace or repair sewer lines along public streets, such as the work recent- ly completed on Piscataway Drive. Sewer work in environmentally sensi- tive areas, such as in Piscataway Park between Piscataway Drive and Fort Washington Marina, is now in the planning stages and is expected to start this fall.
Several Piscataway Hills residents attended a public meeting about the sewer project with WSSC officials and contractors at the Surratts-Clinton Memorial Library on February 27. WSSC told the meeting that the project would repair, rehabilitate, or replace 16.5 miles of sewer lines and 476 manholes at 88 sites throughout the 44,000 acre Piscataway Creek basin. About 85% of the work is expected to be carried out without trenching or other excavation, with liners installed within existing pipes, sealing of joints, and other repair methods.
The sewer refurbishment is required by a 2005 consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other organizations to prevent sewage from leaking into local waterways. Not only can sewage leak from broken pipes and manholes, but a leaky system allows rainwater to infiltrate and overwhelm the entire system, causing large overflows during storms. WSSC officials noted that parts of the current system are more than 90 years old and need refurbishment. The refurbishment project is intended to extend the life of the system by at least 50 years.
One issue raised by meeting participants was the repair of streets and driveways after sewer work is completed. WSSC officials said that temporary surface repairs would be in place until all work on a street was finished, which may include water line replacement and other projects. Once everything is done, permanent street repairs, including complete repaving of the affected area, is supposed to be finished within 60 to 90 days.
Residents who are not satisfied with work done on or near their property were urged to contact the WSSC Customer Advocate for southern Prince George’s County, Kevin Woolbright, at 240-205-3684, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For dangerous situations, such as leaks or collapsing pavement, residents were told to call the WSSC 24-hour hotline at 301-206-4002.
Recent water and sewer rate increases of 7-9%, plus another planned increase next year, will pay for the sewer repair work, according to WSSC officials. Repair work is also underway on the water supply system, including water mains, meters, and water towers. However, water mains in Piscataway Hills were already completely replaced within the last seven years and so are not included in that project.