Crews in Provincetown, Mass. repaired the town's public vacuum sewer system after the town was hit by a severe storm on Aug. 9 that damaged it—forcing the closure of many restaurants and public restrooms in peak vacation season. Crews worked around the clock to complete the work before the start of Carnival Week, Provincetown's largest festival that could draw up to 150,000 visitors between Aug. 13 and Aug. 20.

The town originally said on Aug. 11 in its emergency declaration that it would need 48 hours to manage repairs. Instead, the town had returned the downtown vacuum sewer system to "stable operation," by 6 p.m. on Aug. 11, according to a town notice. 

“Crews worked overnight and the team spent considerable time getting the vacuum line on Bradford Street up and running,” Town Manager Alex Morse posted on  Provincetown's Facebook page on Aug. 12. On Aug. 15 he added "the entirety of the downtown vacuum sewer system has been returned to stable operation. At this time, residential users can begin to gradually return to normal water use."

The restaurant shut-downs, which helped reduce sewage flow into the sewers, allowed for repair work to proceed. It was needed to "prevent a further public health emergency caused by sewer overflows," Morse said.

The system, which services a stretch along the main Commercial Street throughway and into the town’s west end, includes about 356 property connections, a subset of the 1,500 properties serviced on the system.

Troubles began early last week when a power station that services the downtown sewer system reportedly had "electrical issues” due to the thunderstorm. The heavy rain “hampered our ability to make the necessary repairs,” Morse posted on Facebook on Aug. 10.

Meanwhile, the town of less than 4,000 permanent residents has plans for a $75 million sewer system expansion that would be the town’s largest such project in history if approved this fall.