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Township to begin cleaning stormwater sewers

By Lisa Brody

Following last summer's significant rain events, Bloomfield Township discovered several storm water sewers and drains were owned by the township and needed maintenance, which led to trustees unanimously approving a storm water asset cleaning and televising contract to begin the process at their meeting on Monday, August 22.

Noah Mehalski, director of public works, explained that during the summer of 2021, multiple large rain events occurred causing flooding impacts throughout the township. “Although the most of the flooding impacts occurred on private property, some sections of storm water conveyance were either owned by, deeded to, or maintained by Bloomfield Township. In order to guide and facilitate the ongoing maintenance of these conveyances the township, through its engineering consultant Hubbell Roth & Clark (HRC), Inc., is developing a storm water asset management plan (SWAMP).”

He said the first step is to clean and close circuit televise the process of the pipes and drains to see if there are any critical issues present and then analyze what to do with them.

Two bids were submitted to the township, and a recommendation to award the contract for cleaning and televising of storm water assets to Pipetek Infrastructure Services in the amount of $249,708.

Mehalski said included in the plan can be anything from pipes to “many kinds of drainage systems. This is to guide our future management of our assets. There is no first hand knowledge of them. We took them over – they're from a time when development was booming (in the township) and pipes and drains were put in,” but developers and the township did not map them.

“This is the first step in our gaining knowledge of this infrastructure,” Mehalski said. “It's an investment.”

Treasurer Brian Kepes concurred. “I think it's just the beginning of dealing with our storm water assets,” he said. “Clearly, last year was an eye opener. If something went into the ground 30, 40, 50 years ago and it hasn't been maintained, we're going to find something, and we have to take care of it.”

Trustee Michael Schostak asked if the bid was only for township, not county, property, and Mihalski said it was.

“This is for 50 sites, and there are thousands out there – but some of them have thousands of feet feeding off of them,” Mihalski said. “Each one of these was a source of flooding last year. Each one of these entered a home… Before last year, we thought we didn't own any storm water assets. Then we learned we own them all.”

“This cost will pale in comparison to homeowner damages and costs,” said clerk Martin Brook.

“The '50s, '60s, and '70s were years of huge growth. They're 50, 60 years old pipes. If they haven't failed yet, they will,” said supervisor Dani Walsh.


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