Sanitary sewage system undergoes repair

By Rob Heselbarth

Old, leaky sewage pipes and excessive amounts of ground runoff water have forced one more construction project to begin on NIU’s campus.

The DeKalb Sanitary District must rehabilitate the worst sections of the NIU sanitary sewage system in need of repair.

The rehabilitation began in mid-March and is scheduled to be completed in late July, before the beginning of the fall semester.

The majority of the construction will take place on the parts of campus east of Normal Road and west of Gilbert Drive where high ground saturation caused large amounts of rainwater to enter the sanitary sewer system.

Michael Zima, DeKalb Sanitary District manager, said out-of-date sanitary sewers that are cracked and leaky have contributed to the extra rainwater.

He said the extra amount of water from ground runoff has caused overloads in the Water Pollution Control Facility in DeKalb.

“Four years ago we had flow monitor computers installed around DeKalb to gauge the extra amount of water leaking into the sewage system,” Zima said.

He said the sanitary district then hired a contractor to do a Sewer System Evaluation Survey (SSES).

“During the SSES, they sent a television camera down the pipes to inspect the system up close,” he said. “That way we were able to get a better idea of what we were dealing with.

“We took that data and decided which basins were the worst,” he said. “It was determined that the east side of NIU’s campus was the leakiest, so we’re working on that part first.”

The total budget for the rehabilitation project, which was approved by the Board of Regents on March 18, was $360,000.

Because of the severity of the problem, the DeKalb Sanitary District will be fronting the money for the project which NIU will pay back, Zima said.

James Harder, vice president of Business and Operations, said the DeKalb Sanitary District wanted to get the work done as quickly as possible so they volunteered to foot the bill.

“They needed to work quickly so they could accommodate their need to keep the water out of the sewage system,” Harder said.

University Landscape Architect Jim Murphy said NIU’s involvement in the project will be minimal.

“We have done some utility locations prior to the initial construction,” Murphy said. “The rest of the work is being done mostly by the city.”