Grand Water Sewer and Service Agency is revising its policy on vandalism due to two instances in a month where manholes were illegally tampered with causing sewage overflow.
“One of them wasn’t intentional, but the other was a rock bigger than would go through the pipe; it was larger than an eight-inch rock in a manhole, and it was in the middle of nowhere,” said Manager Dana Van Horn.
“They had to open the manhole; it was obvious vandalism” said Control Board Chair Gary Wilson.
Added Van Horn, “The other was a sewer RV hose. Someone was either using a clean out or lifting a manhole lid and lost their RV hose into our sewer, which turned sideways and blocked it up. The RV hose was found in a manhole on Spanish Valley Drive on Sept. 23 when it caused an overflow near the intersection with Plateau Circle,” wrote Van Horn. “The hose could have traveled through several manholes and quite a distance before it caused the overflow. It is also difficult to determine if the hose was lost in the sewer yesterday, last month or even longer ago.”
Added Wilson, “I don’t know why anyone would do that; you could go down to the Maverick and do it for free” said Wilson.
When speaking about the damage, Wilson said, “It’s substantial. We probably had a track hoe, a backhoe, four employees [to fix it], it’s not like a misdemeanor.” The cost to repair the damage is estimated between $12,000 and $15,000. “It’s a big deal, so I think it’s time that we pursue it even if we never catch them. At least we get the message out.”
Van Horn said, “I think it’s great to have it in the policy so people know it’s going to be reported no matter what, even if it’s something simple. We are urging citizens to make a report with us or local law enforcement if they see anyone lifting manhole lids, illegally dumping into the sewer or damaging any of GWSSA’s property. Sanitary sewer overflows are costly and can damage the environment. Tampering with water works could have serious public health implications.
“Our mission is to protect our community’s health and welfare by providing services with a commitment to efficiency, sustainability, safety and public awareness. In the case of vandalism, we need the community’s help to prevent other incidents.” Van Horn said the agency is looking into purchasing locks for the covers.