SAWS plans to reroute sewage to determine sinkhole cause

Water must be cleared out of sinkhole for crews to figure out how it formed

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Water System plans to reroute the flow of sewer water gushing through a giant sinkhole in order to determine what created the hole that two cars fell into, killing one driver.

"We're going to lay a bypass where we're going to de-water that pit," SAWS President and CEO Robert Puente said. "The sewage had to flow, so we're going to bypass this area with above-ground piping and then go back into the manhole. Once that happens, then we can go back under there and see what might have happened."

SAWS officials said Tuesday that while they cannot yet point to a definitive cause, it's likely something along the pipeline separated and caused erosion.

The sewer line flowing through the hole broke where a section of old pipe and new pipe connect. 

The new pipe was a 96-inch pipeline, which crews were set to begin extending. The work had not yet begun before the hole formed on the city's Southwest Side.

First responders were alerted Sunday night when two cars fell into the sinkhole. One driver escaped with the help of a passerby. Another trapped driver, Bexar County Sheriff's Deputy Dora Linda (Solis) Nishihara, died.

The Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office on Tuesday said that she died of blunt force injuries and apparent drowning.

Puente said Tuesday there is not yet an estimate on how much the repairs will cost.

He said that running the sewer water through the above-ground pipe would not pose a health risk to anyone in the area nor cause an interruption of service.

Quintana Road is expected to be shut down for three more weeks. 

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