It stinks to live in a section of Ventnor City.

It will take a week to stop a Wellington Avenue sewer main leak, which is spilling raw sewage onto the street, according to the Atlantic County Utilities Authority. Officials said there no immediate health risk and drinking water is not affected.

Only when a bypass pipe is attached to both sides of the leak will the spill stop. Additional repair work will continue after the bypass is in place. Repairs may take up to four weeks.

Utility spokesman Rick Dovey told NBC Philadelphia the company is still trying to find the exact location of the leak. He described the line as a "force main of a sewage line" that cannot be shut off.

The leak is indicative of what Sierra Club New Jersey Director Jeff Tittel calls New Jersey's $14 billion problem: Century-old sewers that need replacement, especially in the state's older cities.

"We have sewers in this state that are made out of brick that were built before the Civil War," Tittel told New Jersey 101.5.

As the infrastructure gets older and isn't replaced, things like the leak in Ventor will happen more often.

Tittel said New Jersey has a problem in many municipalities with combined sewer overflow where storm water goes into the sewer system. When there is heavy rain, raw sewage gets into streams and bays but sometimes ends up on streets.

"Instead of Fountains of Wayne we should call it Fountain of Paterson watching the sewage come out of manhole covers near the river on a rainy day," Tittel said.

Tittel said there may have been warning signs of a developing problem including smells and small leaks of sewage that no one paid attention to until the pipe burst.

"Sewer authorities are supposed to every so often take a camera, put it on a hose and go and survey through their pipe to see if there's any cracks or breaks or areas that look suspect," Tittel said. "You have a feeling that those things don't get done very often even though they should be done on a regular basis."

Because of Ventor's location along the ocean, Tittel said the pipe could have been eroded with water from the bay or ocean and no one would have noticed.

In lieu of replacing pipes, Tittel said there are things that utilities can do such as lining pipes with plastic to help hold them in place and stop corrosion.

"There's a lot of things we can be doing that we're just not doing because we don't really want to spend the money or in many cases sewer authorities seem to be more about patronage rather than taking care of our infrastructure," Tittel said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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