City of Bloomington Utilities resolves sanitary sewer overflow in Lower Cascades Park

BLOOMINGTON – The City of Bloomington Utilities (CBU) has resolved the city’s first sanitary sewer overflow this year.

On February 24, CBU employees completed the replacement of an above-ground sewer access point that was leaking sewage into the ground along North Old State Road 37 in Lower Cascades Park and allowing stormwater infiltration into the sanitary sewer system.

CBU crew putting final concrete seals on new above-ground sewer access point

The Monroe County Health Department alerted CBU to the SSO on February 17, after which CBU assessed the current infrastructure, determined the course of action (repair, rehab, or replace), and located the necessary materials before successfully completing the replacement of the sewer access point and adjacent pipes.

The SSO – the city’s first since March 2020 – and its correction were reported to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).  

Due to the topography and limestone geology of Lower Cascades Park, much of the wastewater infrastructure in the area is above ground. This particular sewer access point was scheduled for rehabilitation later this spring, but was prioritized after the leak was discovered. The replacement of this sewer access point and adjacent pipes, along with the installation of a new sewer interceptor in 2020, are updates to the 1950s-era wastewater infrastructure in the Cascades area.  

A visual inspection of the area surrounding the SSO after the repair showed no indications of adverse impacts to plants or wildlife. Each day, CBU staff perform visual inspections both above ground and from within the sanitary sewer system using a camera sent through the pipes that relays video images to a truck equipped with television monitors. A comprehensive survey of the entire system of 321 miles of pipes and 8,443 sewer access points takes about ten years. Sewer monitoring is among the functions performed by CBU, whose sanitary sewer infrastructure, including two wastewater treatment plants and 46 lift stations, serves 22,415 customer connections. 

Utilities Director Vic Kelson

“CBU is vigilant in maintaining and generally surpassing the most rigorous water and wastewater quality standards,” said Utilities Director Vic Kelson.  “This overflow event is the first in a year, and we detected and addressed it promptly.  Although the level of potential impact is minimal, CBU is committed to sharing information with the community about the safety of both our wastewater and our drinking water.”

Water flowing from a sewer access point or manhole or another indication of an SSO should be reported to CBU via the 24-hour line at 812-339-1444.