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DPW Director Reiterates Need to Avoid Grease and Wipes in Sewer System After Major Blockage on Middlesex Turnpike

A more than weeklong sewer project on Middlesex Turnpike in the area of Network Drive is wrapping up but in order to avoid similar emergency projects in the future the Burlington Department of Public Works is asking residents to stop flushing a couple of items into the sewer system.

DPW John Sanchez said that on around Friday, April 16, a sewage blockage was discovered in the pipe on Middlesex Turnpike. Crews attempted to dislodge it using tools but in the end it was too strong a blockage. This required them to dig 12 feet and cut the pipe open.

“We had to cut it open and it’s 12 feet deep, in the middle of a busy road and the water table was high,” Sanchez said of why it took over a week to repair. “It was a hell of a job.”

He said they are mostly finished now but still need to re-patch the road. They are waiting until after crews from the gas company to arrive because while doing the road they found some issues with the gas line. Sanchez said they hope that work is done on Tuesday and they can get to fixing the roadway.

Finally, he asked that residents not put grease or wipes into the system as they were big contributors to the blockage.

“That’s what we’ve been preaching and there is a reason,” he said. “There was a lot of grease, which gets really hard, and while we were removing the blockage we found a ton of wipes. Grease and wipes should not be in the sewer system, period.”

He said there is currently a bill in the Massachusetts State House to address the issue of wipes because they have been difficult for many cities in towns for the past few years. He added that during the pandemic it has gotten worse because many businesses have employees working from home and there is not as much flow in the system to push the grease into the processing station. He thinks this might have been a contributing factor in this case.