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Dye tests of sewers will turn Tosa creek green

April 13, 2011

Washington Highlands residents should not panic when the Schoonmaker Creek, which runs through the neighborhood, turns green.

Like last year, the city has again hired consultants to test the sewer system for leaks by flooding it with water dyed green. Because the storm sewer is not enclosed at the end, residents may notice a trickle of green water discharging into the creek throughout the day, followed by heavy amounts similar to what occurs to during a rain storm at the end of each day.

"Schoonmaker Creek is going to look green for about two months," said Chris Stamborski, project manager with consultant R.A. Smith National. "It definitely gives everybody a little surprise if they are not prepared."

The water eventually dumps into the Menomonee River.

The dye is a nontoxic powder that becomes bright and easy to see when added to water expelled from fire hydrants and routed to the storm sewers, he said. Crews will be investigating adjacent sanitary sewers, looking for sources of dyed water entry into that system.

The actual testing will occur east of Wauwatosa Avenue (also known as 76th Street) between Center Street and Milwaukee Avenue. The dye-water flooding is intended to find leaks in people's sanitary sewer laterals by identifying where clear water is entering the system, City Engineer Bill Wehrley said.

A second dye-water testing project managed by consultant Crispell-Snyder is expected to get under way between North Avenue and Center Street from Swan Boulevard to Wauwatosa Avenue some time this month. This work will help engineers design the storm sewer and sanitary sewer improvements coming to the Meinecke Avenue area, Wehrley said.

Water will be discharged into the Menomonee River between North Avenue and 90th Street.

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