On more and more occasions the City’s wastewater crews are being dispatched on an emergency basis to clear sewer backups as result of residential and business customers flushing rags, rubber gloves and other garbage down toilets and drains.
“The problem with disposing these items through toilets or drains is that they flow into our sewer systems and lift stations and because they don’t break-down, they cause sewer backups and plug residential sewer lines,” explained Stormwater/Wastewater Operations Supervisor Ronelle Sears. “Our crews have to go down into the lift station and manually remove the rags and a lot of times our employees are being called out on evenings and weekends to clear these plugs, which increases the department’s and the City’s overtime costs.”
In response, crews have started clearing the pumps of rags when performing morning rounds three times a week to reduce overtime costs. Additionally, crews have been able to locate the general area where these items are originating and are placing large hooks in nearby sewer manholes to catch the towels and gloves. Crews are also following specific problem areas upstream and are contacting specific customers in the area, but have yet been able to pinpoint the source.
Informational flyers have been placed in the City’s utility bills and at City facilities and stories have run in the City’s newsletter to alert more customers of this issue and to be mindful of what is entering the wastewater system.