Smoke to be used to test for leaks in Akwesasne sanitary sewer system
Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 6:02 am

Tribal officials say smoke similar to that in the above photo will be pumped through some Akwesasne sewer lines on May 30. Officials say it is not dangerous and is to test lines in areas affected by flooding that happened earlier this year.

AKWESASNE -- Akwesasne residents may soon see smoke coming from sewer grates and lines, but tribal officials say it is not dangerous and residents need not worry.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Water/Wastewater Department anticipates conducting a one-day leak test in the sanitary sewer system.

They say this is anticipated on Wednesday, May 30 beginning at approximately at 8 a.m.

This is to test lines in areas affected by early spring floods.

A New York Rural Water Association (NYRWA) technician will be assisting in this leak test. A non-toxic smoke will be blown in to the system to reveal leaks that allow storm water and other surface waters to enter. “Locating and correcting these leaks will conserve expensive capacity at the treatment facility. A record will be made. We are concentrating in the area that recently went through the flood which may also expose any damage,” said Water/Wastewater Manager Shawn Martin.

During the week prior to May 30, tribal officials say residents in the area should pour water down all drains in their homes or building to ensure all traps are full.

The smoke is for this purpose only. It leaves no residual stains and has no effects on plants or animals.

It has a “distinctive but not an unpleasant odor,” the tribe said. The visible smoke and odor only last a few minutes where there is adequate ventilation. The smoke should not enter homes, the tribe said. However, if smoke does appear in a home any of the following could be a probable cause:

• The vents connected to the buildings sewer lateral are inadequate, defective or improperly installed.

• The traps under sinks, tubs, showers, basins, floor, drains are dry, defective, improperly installed or missing.

• The pipes, connections and seals of the buildings sewer system are damaged, defective, have plugs missing or are improperly installed.

• If traces of smoke or its odor enter a house or building, it is an indication that odor from the sewer system may also be entering. This can be unpleasant, dangerous and a potential health hazard. The identification, location, and correction of the source of any smoke entering a house is “urgently advised,” the tribe said.

All sump pumps should be piped outside to daylight and not into the collection system, the tribe said.

The SRMT can provide assistance in locating the source of smoke entering a home. Correction of defects in the pipes and sewer is the property owner’s responsibility, the tribe said.

People observing smoke in their home and not able to identify the source or with questions can call Martin at (518) 358-4205 ext. 2703.