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Raw Sewage Spills Into Leibert Creek

The failure of a part known as a 'curb stop' may be the cause of a leak in the new Vera Cruz Sewer System along Main Road East that caused raw sewage to spill into Leibert Creek Sunday night.

Main Road East near Mystic Chain Park in my opinion is normally one of the more picturesque areas of Main Road East…it’s quite close to the section of Vera Cruz that I have been known to jokingly refer to as Emmaus Patch HQ and a stone’s throw from the place that my family and I call home.

On Sunday night, that area of Main Road earned the dubious distinction of being the first (and hopefully only) failure within the Vera Cruz Sewer Project. Had you been driving through the area Sunday night as Patch columnist Jenae Holtzhafer had been, you would have been treated to all the sights and sounds one would expect from a sewer leak.

Jenae and her husband were picking up their kids from their grandparents' house on Main Road East (small world) at about 9 p.m. Here’s what they encountered in Jenae’s own words:

“As we exited the car, the choking stench of raw sewage smothered us. We raced to get into the house and we grabbed the kids and skedaddled, hoping the foul odor hadn’t permanently saturated our good winter coats.

“As we drove west on Main Road East, we noticed a heavy stream of liquid rushing along side the road. We slowed to observe it and realized it was steaming in the darkness. Indeed, something had broken beneath the surface of the macadam and was rapidly seeping along the borders of the neighboring properties.

“A standing pool of sewage collected to the point of covering half of Main Road East near the entrance of Mystic Chain Park,” Jenae says.

Jenae then called her dad to tell him about the apparent leak and her dad, in turn, called his neighbor George DeVault, who also happens to be an Upper Milford Township supervisor. (Again, small world.)

And, based on scanner transmissions heard about 10 p.m. Sunday night, DeVault took things from there. He asked that the Lehigh County Authority be notified of a sewer system leak causing sewage to pour directly into Leibert Creek.

The situation was ultimately contained Sunday night. Speculation has been that a part known as a “curb stop” failed, resulting in the leak. In layman’s terms, a curb stop connects the parts of the sewer system that sit underground on an individual’s private property to the parts of the system that lie under the public roadway.

On Monday morning, Township Sewerage Enforcement Officer Brian Miller said he expected that crews would be breaking through the macadam on Main Road East Tuesday to try to determine the cause of the system failure and complete necessary repairs. Until able to look under the surface of the roadway, he said, it would be tough to determine exactly which part had failed.

In the interest of full disclosure, I spoke to Miller about the leak in my back yard on Monday. He had stopped by to talk to our plumbing contractor. Oddly enough, Emmaus Patch HQ was hooked up to the Vera Cruz Sewer System yesterday. (Small, small world.)

tamarya November 27, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Didn't they just put the sewer in there in vera cruz? Sounds like it is doing much better than the private septic pumps. Hopefully no one has private untreated wells in that area or you could be drinking that too.
Jenae Holtzhafer November 27, 2012 at 03:54 PM
My parents have a well. I think most people do along Main Rd. East/West and Vera Cruz Rd. That was one of the main issues with the old septic systems ... leakage and contamination.
Jennifer Marangos November 27, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Working on getting answers to some of the larger "environmental" questions related to this story. Monday was still a vacation day for many of the folks who would have been able to speak to such issues. Still wanted to get the story out to the community using the best information that we had, which largely came from living in and around the area impacted. I appreciate your interest and concerns and will hopefully be address them soon. As far as the well issue goes, we have well water, as do most our neighbors.
FriendsLMT November 27, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Thanks for getting this information out quickly. We'll be watching for the updates on the larger environmental and drinking water consequences. As Scott mentioned above the Little Lehigh downstream from the Leibert is a major water source for the City.
FriendsLMT November 27, 2012 at 05:54 PM
It doesnt look like the Mcall has picked up on this yet....

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