Lewiston sewer line boasts the granddaddy of all clogs

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When I hear the words "sewer", "monster", and "Maine", what comes to mind is a demonic alien clown with silver eyes and fangs. Stephen King's It -- a novel about a sewer-dwelling specter who rips a little boy's arm off in the first thirty pages of the book -- redefined how I consider sewer grates. (The clowns never had a chance. I hate clowns.) But now there's a new monster haunting Maine's sewers.

This one is in Lewiston, not Bangor, and it's not a giant shape-shifting spiderthing with deadlights on its abdomen. No, it's a sixty foot-long behemoth wreaking havoc on the town above it -- and it's composed of mop heads, grease, rags, and dough.

The trouble started on January eleventh. A major sewer line under Main Street -- a twelve-inch pipe -- became clogged with "a doughy substance". Every attempt made by city workers to unplug the line with snakes and high pressure water hoses failed; and when they removed parts of the clog, it appeared to grow back. City officials were stumped as to how to solve their problem. Public Service decided that the only way to completely eradicate the mess was to replace the line (which is already old) -- at a cost of between $40,000 and $60,000.

There are six businesses on the block: an eye clinic, a church, a boutique, a print shop, something called PEG Associates, and Sam's Italian Foods, an Italian eatery.

Public Service Director Kevin Gagne was reported as saying the blockage seemed to grow back as they pulled it out from where it began -- in front of Sam's. And of all the businesses mentioned, Sam's is the one place where you're likely to find dough (from pizzas, bread, and submarine rolls), kitchen rags, mops, and, of course, grease.

To keep things flowing, so to speak, the city has been pumping out the backed-up sewage three times a day. This has allowed all six businesses to stay open and the line to remain unrepaired until the city accepts a contractor's bid. In the meantime, the general manager of Sam's, Michael Marchus, came forward to give his take on the clog.

Marchus says that the materials from his restaurant weren't responsible for the clog -- rather, a collapse was. He says his waste just backed up afterwards. Public Service Director Gagne, on the other hand, says that a lack of dirt in the material suggests that the line collapse was not initial, but that it followed the doughy mess's accumulation. And what quantity of dirt and stone the city has pulled out of the line isn't nearly as much as they've recovered in the past when dealing with a collapse that causes a clog. To them, it seems likely that the blockage occurred first.

"We won't know for sure what's underground and what caused it," says Gagne, "until we've dug it up."

I'd watch out for clowns.

39 Comments on "Lewiston sewer line boasts the granddaddy of all clogs"

Dave's picture
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Update: Sam's Italian food has bought off the city -- Gagne now blames a sewer collapse.

Frank2401's picture
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Mop heads, grease, rags and dough. What a recipe for a giant pile of glue.
Yes, everyone- watch out for clowns.

Logjam's picture
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Nice report, daphne. I followed the link that Dave gave where there were posted some photos of the on-going repair work. What I can't fathom is how this is costing only 51K. Even if these workers aren't unionized and the local economy has tanked, that seems just impossible. DDaddy. Is this possible?

Logjam

prarie doggin's picture
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Boy, I hope my upcoming colonoscopy doesn't look like that.

Bilgepump's picture
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Having that Pennywise image in my head before I even saw the picture accompanying the story, I could have sworn that was a misshapen skull blocking the pipe. I'm still not entirely convinced that it is not. And now I'm gonna have nightmares for a week...thanks alot, Shitler.

"One of the founding members of the Front Page Hyena Pack, and runs as its alpha male when the urge strikes him, which is often." Daphne (one perceptive chick)

prarie doggin's picture
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Damn, Bilge I didn't notice that. Now I'll be up all night too. When they unearth this monster, they should make a large calzone out of if and force Sam's owners to eat it.

daphne's picture
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Harumph. This is interesting. I found the Lewiston city ordinances bullshit city ordinances and rags are mentioned. I didn't read all the gobbledeegook, but it's in there. Here's what I don't like about how they've resolved this. If it was a cave-in of the sewer system, fine and good. All is well. BUT it's NOT. Rags and mop heads, and especially grease are not sewer items. This shows that the restaurant is tossing things aside to the sewer plant down the road that are a pain to get out, and should be put in the dump. That should have been in the article. I wonder if it will be mentioned.
_______
.....hugging bunnies since 1969 www.daphneszoo.com

.....hugging bunnies since 1969
www.daphneszoo.com

prarie doggin's picture
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Daphne, that was the nail I was trying to hit on the head. WTF are these things doing in a sewer? Grease is supposed to be recycled, but it costs to have it picked up. Those other items are just bizzare. They should have been in a dumpster (if he even has one as required). I hope this guy gets in deep caca. It sounds as if he was trying to save money at taxpayers expense.

Bilgepump's picture
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Yeah yeah yeah...what about that HUGE FUCKING SKULL????

I want my mommy.

"One of the founding members of the Front Page Hyena Pack, and runs as its alpha male when the urge strikes him, which is often." Daphne (one perceptive chick)

Logjam's picture
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You think you got a scare? When I first saw it, I thought it was Strom Thurmond come back to life, looking more vigorous than he had in years.

Logjam

Bilgepump's picture
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YOU'RE RIGHT!!!! Great, thanks, LJ, now I have a month, at least, of nightmares.

"One of the founding members of the Front Page Hyena Pack, and runs as its alpha male when the urge strikes him, which is often." Daphne (one perceptive chick)

Bunga Din's picture
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LJ, I know that here you can rent a big backhoe for less than a $1500 a day plus delivery, so excavating this to find the problem and such for $51,000 for a small section seems reasonable. The real cost will be in fixing ALL the breaks that are in this section, once you start digging you always find more and from the sounds of it they did just that.

The real question is which building has a drain large enough to accommodate a mop head. I've never been in the back of restaurants but I can't imagine they have drains that large, I would have guessed maybe 3-4" for hosing down the floor. Find the big drain and find the perp. So ends this lesson of sewer sleuth.

Bilgepump's picture
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Bunga, screw the mopheads....tell me, smart guy, how a dead U.S. Senator from the deep south cam back to life and got wedged in a sewer in Lewiston Maine?? Huh? C'mon, wise guy! Sleuth that, why don't ya?

"One of the founding members of the Front Page Hyena Pack, and runs as its alpha male when the urge strikes him, which is often." Daphne (one perceptive chick)

prarie doggin's picture
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I think we need someone on the scene. Dave does Poop Report have a field office in Maine?

Logjam's picture
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Not to imply that Bunga needs any help solving this conundrum, but perhaps this is a new phase of the Southern strategy, foreseen by Kevin Phillips. The first step was to scare southern whites into voting Republican. Phase 2 was to relocate a resurrected Strom to the Maine sewers and scare northern whites into moving south.

Logjam

Bunga Din's picture
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I think maybe we need someone like Greg Palast on the scene looking into this Logjam, looks like I'm in way over my head.

P.S. I heard they never really buried Jerry Falwell either, my guess he's turning up in either Michigan or Washington State.

Logjam's picture
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For some reason (oh, I don't know, but maybe because there's NO NEW STORY TODAY, goddamn it!) I just reread this article. For the first time it registered that the pipe in this photo is only a foot in diameter. I'd been perceiving it as something more like 10 feet. Why is that? Have others been seeing it that big, or have I entered the Twilight Zone?

Logjam

Bunga Din's picture
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DEE DEE DEE DEE, DEE DEE DEE DEE
You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight, sound and smell but of mire. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's a turd up ahead— your next stop, the Poopreport Zone!

prarie doggin's picture
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You're not the only one. It must be an optical illusion. I was thrown off to the size because it kind of reminded me of that giant ball rolling after Indiana Jones.

Bilgepump's picture
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thats still a big fucking skull.

"One of the founding members of the Front Page Hyena Pack, and runs as its alpha male when the urge strikes him, which is often." Daphne (one perceptive chick)

prarie doggin's picture
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Great, I'll have to spend another night with my head under the covers saying "there is no skull in the pipes, there is no skull in the pipes".

DungDaddy's picture
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Whoever flushed mop heads down the toilet needs to be sent down there and forced to eat through the clog.

daphne's picture
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Quoteth the Logjam... "Not to imply that Bunga needs any help solving this conundrum, but perhaps this is a new phase of the Southern strategy, foreseen by Kevin Phillips. The first step was to scare southern whites into voting Republican. Phase 2 was to relocate a resurrected Strom to the Maine sewers and scare northern whites into moving south." Political humor or not, this is just funny. Very nice. Here's Stroms's skull According to generalized anatomical proportions, the head should be one eighth of the body. This skull appears as it might be a bit bigger than the 12 inches suggested, as you'd have to take into account the mandible (lower jaw) and flesh that would have surrounded it in life. So, if his skull was 14 inches or so, Strom Thurman was roughly nine and a half feet tall with his shit-stomping shoes on. That's one tall politician. I think it was a set-up from radical liberals. If you take a look at this site, you see a hint as to whom was to blame. Towards the end of the page, there is a picture of ole' Strom's melon that morphs into a skull. Coincidence? I think not.
_______
.....hugging bunnies since 1969 www.daphneszoo.com

.....hugging bunnies since 1969
www.daphneszoo.com

courtesy_flush's picture
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Isn't there some kind of baceteria that will eat yeast? Of course that would still leave the mop heads, and oh yea, the giant freakin skull!

prarie doggin's picture
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CF, I think what you are looking for is mopheadaromyces cerevaie. It would work, but the skull would still need to be flushed out.

bigpooper's picture
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When I first saw the picture, I thought of the giant wooden ball that I believe the City of Boston (I don't remember for certain as it may have been another city that I'm thinking of), as I'd seen it on a documentary on tv a couple years ago) uses when needed, to clean out their sewer mains every so often, as the ball is something like 90% of the diameter of the mains. I figured that is what is needed to get rid of the plug, and then I read the article to find out the pipe in question is only 12 inches in size. My question is this: Why can't they just get one of the guys from the local Roto-Rooter businesses and have them unclog the line? Or is this too big for Roto-Rooter?

prarie doggin's picture
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It sounds from the newspaper article that attempts were made by the city with both snake and water jet. I'm not sure Roto-Rooter has anything stronger in their arsenal. I think the ball you are talking about can only be used for partial clogs and routine maintainence. If thats a skull down there then it must have quite a set of dreadlocks.

Bilgepump's picture
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Its a little known fact that in his last years, Strom Thurmond became a Rastafarian, spending his waning days listening to Jimmy Cliff and bogarting huge spliffs. Some of his more eloquent congressional rants were the result of a combination of Jamaica's finest, Captain Morgan, and Red Stripe.

"One of the founding members of the Front Page Hyena Pack, and runs as its alpha male when the urge strikes him, which is often." Daphne (one perceptive chick)

prarie doggin's picture
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I think the mystery clog has been solved. It's Strom Thurmond's skull sporting huge mop-like
dreadlocks. Should we notify the Lewiston public works department?

Bilgepump's picture
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either that, or reincarnate Haile Selassie, and see if he can't coax ol' Strom out of the pipe.

"One of the founding members of the Front Page Hyena Pack, and runs as its alpha male when the urge strikes him, which is often." Daphne (one perceptive chick)

prarie doggin's picture
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WHAT! Have two skulls down there? You really don't want me to sleep again, do you?

Deja Poo's picture
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Question: "...tell me, smart guy, how a dead U.S. Senator from the deep south cam back to life and got wedged in a sewer in Lewiston Maine?"

Answer: Karma.
_______
Yo quiero Taco Bell.

Yo quiero Taco Bell.

Logjam's picture
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daphne. Nice job on adding the lost detail to the skull, and even more on finding the web site with the simulation of the transformation of dead face to live skull. To tell you the truth, I thought I was just being fanciful in speculating that this was Strom, but apparently I had tapped into something cosmic. As to your calculations of his height based on the skull's dimensions, depending on the camera angle, the skull could be considerably smaller than the 12-inch diameter pipe. In any case, your sleuthing now has me as scared as Bilge.

Logjam

Bilgepump's picture
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I wonder if there ever was a resolution to this?
_______

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

"One of the founding members of the Front Page Hyena Pack, and runs as its alpha male when the urge strikes him, which is often." Daphne (one perceptive chick)

the thin brown line's picture
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Dear Daphne,

Clowns have feelings too.

Departingly Yours,

Emmet Kelly

Good stuff PR people.
Even Bilgepump made me chuckle!

Somethin' mysterious made an exit from the gift shop.

Butt of the Joke's picture
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Seeming as it has been 2 years since anyone has commented on this thread,I'm guessing that your answer is a "no" Bilgepump.Someone should really look this up again.
_______
More people flush than they do wash their hands.

More people flush than they do wash their hands.

Butt of the Joke's picture
l 100+ points
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Well,the latest news I could find was that "work should begin Friday."Apparently,the reporters thought the people wanted to know more about the contractor battle as to whom gets the honor of cleaning the mess.It was predicted to be a week long project.And this was done towards the end of January,so it is safe to assume the job is done by now.Let me know if you find anything better,anybody.
_______
More people flush than they do wash their hands.

More people flush than they do wash their hands.

Anonymous's picture
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No, no, no. He obviously became a Pastafarian (see venganza.org). May you be touched by His noodly appendage. Our religion has a beer volcano AND a stripper factory. Beat that Poop John Paul!

Anonymous's picture
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And some city engineer is obviously not aware of the subtle wonders worked by cherry bombs in clearing plumbing clogs.