Repairs begin on Oak Harbor's outfall pipe

The Oak Harbor City Council has approved up to $75,000 for the emergency repair of a broken 18-inch wastewater outfall pipe from the treatment plant off City Beach Street.

C. Johnson Construction, Inc. of Oak Harbor was hired by the city to make the repairs. Work begins Wednesday morning, May 26, and will run through Friday, said City Engineer Eric Johnston. The construction company will be paid based on time and materials used, he said.

A nearby resident reported the burst pipe on Friday, May 14 after they noticed water gushing out of the ground about 200 feet from the shoreline at low tide.

Treated wastewater flows from the pipe, constructed in 1956 for $16,498.75, into Oak Harbor Bay, Johnston said. The break is approximately four and a half feet below the sediment line, which will make repairs difficult with the incoming and outgoing tidal conditions.

Wastewater that normally flows through the treatment plant at Windjammer Park is being diverted to the Seaplane Base lagoon system until the repairs are complete.

“The extent of the break is unknown at this point,” he said. “While the cause of the break will remain unknown until crews are able to excavate down to the pipe, corrosion is the most probable cause of the failure.”

The city engineering department sent a robot camera about 161 feet down the pipe and re-played video from the mini-investigator on a large screen during the council meeting. The footage gave an inside-the-pipe view for the council and Channel 10 viewing audience.

“By and large it is in fairly good condition except where it broke,” he said,

Johnston also played a short video clip of water burbling out of the ground above the break. The multi-media presentation was a first for Johnston and the engineering department.

“We’re broadening our horizons here,” he said of the video footage shown at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

C. Johnson Construction will excavate the area around the pipe during low-tide Wednesday morning to assess the extent of the damage and make plans for repair. Among the options are slip lining of the entire outfall, slip lining of the outfall near shore, installation of a repair band, or installation of a new section of pipe at the break, according to city documents.

“A final solution for repair of the outfall will be determined once the area of the break has been excavated and engineers are able to see the pipe,” Johnston said.

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