City responds to sewer overflow, further contamination avoided

Friday, April 5, 2019 - 4:04pm

The work of the City of Madison’s Engineering Division was successful after a utility contractor hit a sanitary sewer pipe causing wastewater to overflow from a sewer manhole into a storm drain.

At about 8:15 p.m., April 4, a homeowner reported a backup in a home on 4008 Milwaukee Street. Engineering crews immediately responded and found untreated wastewater had spilled out of a manhole into a grassy area and drained into two nearby storm inlets, or drains. They quickly removed the blockage and cleaned the spilled wastewater from the grassy area and storm sewer.

On April 5, Engineering Division crews went back to the scene to investigate what caused the blockage and overflow. After using cameras in the sewer pipes, crews discovered a fiber optic cable went through the pipe and caused the blockage and overflow. The City confirmed a contractor had dug underground, by way of directional boring, recently in the area while doing fiber optic cable installation and hit the pipe.

The City’s crews repaired the pipe and worked with the contractor to remove the cable.

The City’s crew cleaned the sewer drain and removed all wastewater. Surface waters were not impacted.

The fiber optic company finished work by 3 p.m., April 5.

The overflow did not come into contact with humans, and there are no long-term effects from the overflow.

This notice is provided in compliance with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Administrative Code and the City of Madison’s Capacity, Maintenance, Operations & Management (CMOM) Program.


  • Mark Moder, Principal Engineer, Sanitary 608-261-9250
  • Media: Hannah Mohelnitzky, Public Information Officer, City of Madison Engineering

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