Lewiston sewer line boasts the granddaddy of all clogs
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.