It was a great thing for the Beverly Hillbillies when they saw some bubbling crude, black gold, shooting up into the air out of their land; however, it’s not such a great thing when Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) sees a geyser of black sewage shooting up into the air next to a runway.

But PTIA has had that problem and has faced related issues due to a very troublesome sewer line that runs right under the airport.

For years, PTIA has seen leaks from the sewage line onto airport property – including an alarming geyser of sewage that once spewed out near a runway. Crews from the City of Greensboro are now working to solve the problem.

PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker said that a lot of people who drive by the airport are curious about seeing City of Greensboro workers digging up the ground across from the Marriot Greensboro Airport hotel.

“It’s kind of a misunderstood project,” Baker said, adding that people ask why Greensboro is handling the project for PTIA near the airport entrance.

“Right now, there is a lift station that’s down here past the Marriot, when you coming out of that curve after the Marriot it’s down the hill from there,” Baker said.

He said that that lift station pumps sewage up from that location and across the airfield – right under a runway – and the pipes then runs behind HAECO’s operations and then ends up in Horse Pen Creek section of the city’s water treatment system. That path across the airport was one that was built asking for trouble – and, true to form, it has caused the airport numerous problems over the years as those pipes have failed.

“The problem with that is on a number of occasions that force main is broken right in the middle of our airfield,” Baker said. “At one point we had a geyser out there – so for the city to be replacing that [sewage line] is a really good thing.”            Geysers of dark sewage are no fun to clean up and could result in a safety issue if a leak sprung in the wrong place on the airfield.

Baker said that, when the new major roadway interchange at the airport was being built, the City of Greensboro and Guilford County government worked together to get the airport sewage system a major overhaul that will also act as an infrastructure upgrade to support the coming 1000-acre aviation megasite that’s in the works.

“It will stay out of the airfield once and for all,” Baker said of the sewage line. “That will be a nice thing.”