Sewage system repairs alongside water supply

WTHR photo

If you've driven, jogged or biked through the north side, you are probably wondering what's going on with the canal?

It is a construction zone; There's blocks of pipe. Illinois Street is closed. The usually picturesque place is ugly and smells funny and not one of the people we found living or running around the canal had any idea of what was going on.

Citizen Energy has begun work to modernize the city's aging sewer system. While workers installed a new liner inside a 90-year-old main eight feet below ground, sewage had to be diverted above ground.

The temporary plastic pipes flowing with sewage are spitting distance from the canal - the same canal that supplies 60 percent of the city's drinking water.

While residents we spoke with weren't excited by that, Citizen's said they don't feel good about a buried sewer line installed next to the canal in the 1920's.

"We're not comfortable with the fact that the sewer pipe could malfunction," spokesperson Sarah Holesapple explained.

She said Citizens has done this before in less visible places (not so close to the water supply) without any problems. The system is watched 24/7 by workmen looking for malfunctions.

Although resident Stewart Glennan isn't thrilled by any of this, "Having things broken is also an accident waiting to happen. So when I see people repairing the sewers, I am glad they are doing it."

The canal sewer project will take five- to six weeks to finish. Illinois Street should reopen in about two weeks.

With $40 million worth of sewer repairs and replacements scheduled this year, other neighborhoods around the city see similar construction zones pop up in their areas as well.