Challenges Prove the Value of Skill, Determination … and Luck

Minnesota sewer and drain cleaning company saves customer time, money by trying lining first instead of open-cut repair

Challenges Prove the Value of Skill, Determination … and Luck

Ouverson Sewer and Water owner Troy Ouverson (far right) and staff liner technicians (from left) David Allen, Matt Allen, and Scott Theisen stand in the company’s Loretto, Minnesota, headquarters in front of an Isuzu 2012 NPR box truck, left, and a 20-foot lining trailer pulled by a 2015 Ford F-450 utility box truck.

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In the summer of 2015, Troy Ouverson — the owner of Ouverson Sewer and Water, a pipe lining and repair company in Loretto, Minnesota — encountered a job that tested his employees’ skill and mettle.

The problem: a ruptured 4-inch-diameter residential lateral line that apparently had been leaking for years. For starters, the lateral configuration was unusual, to say the least. Two lateral lines — one running from each of two adjoining houses — merged inside a private manhole, then continued as one pipe from there out to the main sewer line. “In all, there was a total of 400 feet of pipe,” Ouverson says, noting that the laterals were made out of asbestos cement, then switched to 6-inch-diameter clay pipe from the curb to the mainline. 

The leak was so bad that raw sewage was actually bubbling up through cracks in the street. “The soil was saturated with raw sewage that had never made it to the mainline for years and years — it was just leaching into the surrounding sandy soil,” he says. “One of the homeowners discovered the leak only because a friend had dumped waste from an RV into the manhole, which apparently was too much for the system to handle.” 

To try to save the customer money, Ouverson felt obligated to first try lining the lateral, which was leaking at every elbow joint from the manhole to the mainline — including one that was so badly deteriorated that he feared it would not allow the liner to pass. The fact that the mainline was 22 feet deep only added to the project’s complexity. 

“I was nervous because this one 90-degree elbow was so broken up that I didn’t think the liner would get through,” he recalls. “But somehow — I don’t know how — it could not have turned out better. Both homeowners were out there, and they applauded when we finished shooting the line. It was a big deal to them.” 

The Ouverson crew arrived on the job at 7 a.m. They finally closed up the street after midnight. “We felt we could not leave those two houses without sewer service overnight,” Ouverson says. “I always ask the guys if they want to finish a job that day or go home and finish the next morning. But we’re usually on same page: ‘Let’s get this done.’ 

“In this case, we were really determined to finish the job that night,” he adds. “No one said, ‘Come on, it’s 8 o’clock at night — let’s just go home.’”

In the end, the depth of his employees’ experience carried the day, Ouverson says. That and a little bit of good luck.


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