Education Key To Addressing Growing Lateral Issues

Part 3 In An Ongoing Series
By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | December 2010 Vol. 65 No. 12

Kurz said industry associations and trade shows bring information about lateral issues and methods of rehabilitation to industry professionals, citing the Underground Construction Technology Conference (UCT) and the RehabZone at UCT.

“At WEFTEC,” said Kurz, “I saw an example of a hugely-successful public and school education program addressing sewer problems caused by FOG (fats, oil and grease) in Gwinnett, GA. Some of the key people developing that program were educators -- teachers. Perhaps someone other than engineers needs to be involved in designing industry educational programs. Attractive graphics in this presentation can be credited to educators providing the creative drive.”

Could such a program be effective with broader lateral issues?

“Most people have no interest in their sewer lateral,” Kurz said. “They know nothing about how sewage is conveyed away from their property -- they just pull the chain and expect the system to work. Of course, keeping the system operating is the service aspect of our job. However, ignorance of mechanics involved in the operation of a sewer system means our industry has to do a better job of education to enable the public to make wise decisions that affect the issues we face.”

Legislative mandate needed?
TT Technologies’ Brahler recognizes education is important but believes ultimately legislation will be required to fully address lateral issues.

“I really believe,” said Brahler, “that if the system owners do not take responsibility for laterals and make sure they are rehabilitated or replaced, service providers (contractors, plumbers, etc.) have no incentive to worry about the issue. If there is a demand, the service companies will find a way to satisfy them. Education is important, but unless there are regulations or requirements to force a homeowner or system owner to do something about laterals, they will not do anything.”

Regarding education, Brahler said it is important that such a program be developed by a number of organizations, and to target not only industry groups, but municipal and utility organizations.

“City and municipal building and safety departments need to get into the mix,” Brahler said. “In my opinion, these groups often are an impediment.”

Brahler said line cleaning service companies and plumbers are more proactive than many people realize regarding laterals.

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