Officials: Green dye in Auburn drains not a threat, just a test


AUBURN — Green dye that drained out of city storm-water sewer lines Thursday into the Androscoggin River was nontoxic and only a test, officials said.

Zach Henderson of Woodard and Curran, a Portland engineering firm, said workers used the food-grade green dye to differentiate a Court Street storm-water sewer line from a sanitary sewer line Thursday morning.

Henderson said a subcontractor is using remote-controlled robots with closed-circuit cameras to inspect the city’s storm-water sewer system and wanted to make sure the correct storm line was being inspected.

“We had not anticipated needing to use any dyes,” Henderson said. “When you look at the maps, everything looks easily nice and clean. But when you get out in the field, there may be four or five manholes in one intersection. We want to make sure they are surveying the right one.”

Henderson said the dye was put into a storm-water drain along Court Street, draining into the Androscoggin River just below the Great Falls and upstream from Festival Plaza.

Officials for the city Public Services Department and the Sewer District said they took numerous calls from concerned residents Thursday and Friday.

Public Services Operations Manager Kevin Doyle said the testing is part of a federal- and state-mandated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System program, which requires the city to create a storm-water sewer system that’s separate from the sanitary sewer system. Storm water is designed to flow into the river, while the sanitary sewer system ends at the Lewiston-Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority plant in Lewiston.

“It’s good that people are calling,” Doyle said. “But this is why we do testing like this. We want to make sure we don’t have illicit connections between the two. If there is, we can find it and we can fix it before there’s a problem.”

Henderson said workers would be back in Auburn with their cameras the week of Aug. 24.

“The study should take about two weeks, and we are looking at critical drain networks in the city,” he said. “These are drain lines that are under major roadways, schools, hospitals and other places that if they failed, it would be a bigger problem than others.”

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What the hell is flowing into the Androscoggin river?

Posted by Adam Foss on Thursday, August 13, 2015

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