MSD investigating source of raw sewage incident affecting Berkeley homes

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BERKELEY, Mo. – Fox 2 has learned new details on the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District’s investigation into a clogged sewer main that caused raw sewage to back up into at least four homes in Berkeley.

We brought you the story exclusively on Wednesday night.

The incident all unfolded earlier that day on Madison Avenue just off Interstate 170 in Berkeley. There was about a foot of raw sewage in one basement.

On Thursday, we were granted access as MSD investigated the incident. MSD crews put a camera into the eight-inch water main where the blockage happened.

We were able to see inside the pipe as MSD Senior Tech Operator Jason Weldele looked at the image.

“We’re going with the flow. As we TV down we can see the pipe is nice and clean,” he said. “The cleaning crew came out (Wednesday) night when we got called for the blockage and they cleaned any debris that might have been in there.”

In fact, MSD crews on Wednesday found plenty of debris in the water main, leading to the problem.

“It was a grease coupled with some flushable wipes. Again, there’s a lot of products that are out there marketed as being flushable but, as a matter of fact, many of them are not and the only true flushable wipe is toilet paper,” said Jason Peterein, MSD Project Clear.

While Weldele was looking inside the main, he also checked for any other potential pipe problems.

“As we go down the line, we’re always looking at the whole pipe to make sure we ain’t got no cracks or anything that can cause a problem later down the road,” he said.

Meanwhile, MSD investigators are checking the general area to see if they can definitively find the source of where the grease and wipes came from.

“We can take enforcement action. We could issue a notice of violation for a use ordinance and work with them to bring them back into compliance and potentially recover our costs (and) the community’s costs in addressing this matter,” Peterein said.

MSD officials say their investigation could go on for a couple of weeks.

MSD is going to reimburse the affected families for the costs of cleaning and repairing the basements.

MSD says it generally deals with about 15 to 20 grease pipe blockages a year.

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