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Sewer back up is main problem in Coupeville

Coupeville Public Works Director Malcolm Bishop,  at right, pauses from directing traffic to speak with a road worker during an effort to clear a backup in a sewer line under South Main Street. - Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times
Coupeville Public Works Director Malcolm Bishop, at right, pauses from directing traffic to speak with a road worker during an effort to clear a backup in a sewer line under South Main Street.
— image credit: Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

A backed up sewer main in Coupeville caused problems for at least one business and became a disruption for traffic this week.

The problem appears to have begun late Wednesday evening. Tyee Restaurant and Motel manager MaryAnne Bailey got a call that a grassy area behind the motel next to the trailer park was flooding. The pooling water turned out to be sewage.

“I figured it was us so I called our plumber,” Bailey said.

The following day, town and health department officials were on site spurring the problem’s immediate repair. However, attempts to locate the source of the problem couldn’t be found despite repeated efforts by Bailey’s hired plumber.

Coupeville Public Work Director Malcolm Bishop began checking manholes along South Main later that day and discovered that the problem was coming from an unknown blockage in the sewer main.

A sewage pump-out service was immediately called in to address the problems at the Tyee and Coupeville road crews then began leapfrogging from one manhole to the next, draining the backup and attempting to clear the obstruction with high pressure water hoses.

At no time was South Main ever closed but flaggers were out directing traffic around town workers.

According to Bishop, backups are pretty rare events with only three or four occurring over the 11 years he’s worked for Coupeville. As for what blocked the line, Bishop said he had no idea but speculated that it could be anything from a buildup of grease to discarded clothing.

“You’d be surprised of the kind of things we find,” he said.

Bailey said there was no real damage from the backup and that the town stepped up and paid for the pump-out truck.

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