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Hairline crack found in sanitary line near Little Cal levee

Hairline crack found in sanitary line near Little Cal levee

  • Updated

HIGHLAND | A hairline crack has been detected in an 18-inch sanitary line that runs either side of the levee along the Little Calumet River at Kennedy Avenue.

The crack was discovered last week, said Bob Johnsen, assistant director of Highland public works.

What prompted the initial investigation was a sinkhole smaller than the size of a dinner plate near the pumping station, Johnsen said. A wet low spot then was discovered that indicated a possible leak in the sanitary force main, he said.

That main carries sewage from two-thirds of Highland to Hammond where it is treated, Johnsen said.

Highland officials immediately notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Chicago that has overseen the levee's construction, and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, he said, adding that those agencies continue to be informed about the work.

Despite social media postings to the contrary, no raw sewage has been dumped into the Little Calumet River, officials said.

“We called in Grimmer Construction,” Johnsen said. “They dug down on the outside of the levee wall.”

Crews uncovered the sanitary main and found a hairline crack measuring 23 inches. More digging on the other side of the levee wall revealed another hairline crack measuring 26 inches.

That makes the cracks 49 inches, which is 1 inch longer than the standard 48-inch clamps, Johnsen said.

“We’ve put those clamps on the main, but we special-ordered a 72-inch clamp and hope to have it delivered in two to three days,” Johnsen said Tuesday.

Currently Highland public works crews are working around the clock manning a 2-inch pump to keep groundwater from filling up the dug-out site, he said.

“I’ll be able to sleep at night once that clamp is in place,” Johnsen said.

That part of the Little Calumet River levee system was built in 2006 by contractors working with the Army corps. Sheet piling used to build that section of the levee apparently nicked the sanitary force main, said Dan Repay, executive director of the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission.

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