Provincetown sewer service restored: What we know on Saturday morning

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Restaurants and all residential and lodging properties were allowed on Saturday morning to return to normal water use, the Provincetown Health Department announced at 6 a.m. in a Facebook post.

The sewer emergency order was lifted at that time.

"At this time, ALL users can begin to gradually return to normal water use," according to the health department post.

The town is grateful to the public works department, the sewer engineers and operators, and local septic pumping companies "for their long hours and hard work to ensure this unfortunate storm impact could be swiftly repaired," the post said.

A reopening plan for downtown Provincetown restaurants was announced Friday night after two days of forced shutdowns.

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Workers from Robert B. Our make their way up Commercial Street  in Provincetown on Friday as Provincetown town officials and Woodard and Curran sewer operator dealt with a sewer emergency. A storm earlier in the week knocked out the vacuum pump system that serves the downtown area, according to town officials.
Workers from Robert B. Our make their way up Commercial Street in Provincetown on Friday as Provincetown town officials and Woodard and Curran sewer operator dealt with a sewer emergency. A storm earlier in the week knocked out the vacuum pump system that serves the downtown area, according to town officials.

Also on Friday night, residents and visiting lodgers on the downtown vacuum sewer system were allowed to begin normal water use such as showers and toilet flushing but asked to refrain from dishwashing and laundry.

A state of emergency was declared Thursday in Provincetown for all properties on the town's vacuum sewer system, after a storm damaged equipment and the system lost pressure. Restaurants ceased operations and residential properties were ordered to reduce water use until the vacuum system was operating properly.

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Sewer repaired just in time for Carnival 2022

The middle of August is a very busy time for the community and there were no plans to cancel the 43rd annual Provincetown Carnival. The event is scheduled to go on from Saturday to Saturday, Aug. 13 through Aug. 20, with a theme of “Monsters, Myths & Legends.”

The week of activities, sponsored by the Provincetown Business Guild, will include pool parties, drag parties, cruises, cabaret-style shows, costume parties, gallery strolls and many other events.

Carnival — billed as Provincetown’s largest summer festival — will include the much-anticipated Carnival Parade on Thursday, Aug. 18. The business guild is encouraging support of local businesses.

Starting Saturday: Carnival returns to Provincetown: Everything you need to know

What to know about the Provincetown sewer system

About 1,500 properties are on the town sewer system, some on vacuum and some on gravity-based mechanisms. Another 1,500 properties are still using site-specific systems.

The town sewer system went into service in 2003, and the vacuum system also failed in 2009, during the Fourth of July weekend when an underground line was punctured.

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What is a vacuum sewer system?

Along densely populated and low-lying lots along Commercial Street and Bradford Street, specifically in the downtown area, a vacuum sewer system "pulls" wastewater from individual properties to an underground collection center.

The central vacuum center is located in the center of town. It contains the main vacuum pump and marks the point where the lines serving the downtown converge and enter a large pipe that delivers the sewage to the town's treatment plant. The central vacuum center also contains instruments that monitor the flow and pressure in the lines, and switches that can remotely shut down sections of a specific area.

What we knew on Thursday: Provincetown restaurants close, residents must limit use: Sewer failure coverage

At the treatment plant off Route 6, the wastewater is treated with chemicals and processed through ultraviolet disinfecting reactors, which kill harmful pathogens, coliform and other bacteria. The disinfected wastewater is then pumped to effluent disposal beds bordering Route 6.

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What we know about why the sewer system broke

A power surge from a Tuesday storm damaged breakers that shut off power to parts of the vacuum system and resulted in the entire system becoming waterlogged, according to Public Works Director Jim Vincent.

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Provincetown sewer fixed: Restaurants open as Carnival starts - live