Wednesday, 24 April 2024

Special Districts administrator offers tips on reducing sewage spills

LAKE COUNTY – The recent sewer spills in Clearlake remind us of the sensitive nature of the sewer collection system during heavy rainfall events.


Sanitary sewers have limited capacities and are not designed to dispose of storm water (i.e., rainwater) from your property. The rapid increases of flow into the sewer system caused excessive “flooding” thus creating spills.


Significant amounts of ratepayer funds were expended to pump sewage from manholes in order to minimize the spills. During the period from Jan. 19 to 25, more than 500,000 gallons were disposed of via pumper trucks.


These efforts were conducted to protect public health and to reduce regulatory fines. However, we will need the help of our customers to succeed in reducing spills.


Spills are caused by clogged pipes and/or too much flow. Everyone needs to keep unwanted items out of sewer pipes such as grease, trash, rainwater and tree roots.


Rainwater referred to as “inflow” enters the system from sources such as yard and patio drains, roof gutter downspouts, uncapped cleanouts, pond or pool overflow drains, footing drains, cross-connections with storm drains.


Although these inflow connections may help alleviate yard flooding and puddles, they have significant impacts to the sewer system, the sewer rates, and public health.


Broken house sewer laterals also cause excessive rainwater to enter the sewer system.


What can you do to prevent and reduce inflow?


– Inspect the rain gutters on your house to see if the downspout connects to a sewer line. Such connections are illegal (a violation of the Lake County Sewer Use Ordinance). If the gutter downspouts are connected to the sewer line, have them disconnected – the large amount of water from the roof can cause a sewage spill. The rainwater needs to be directed onto your lawn and/or to the storm drain system.


– Look for and check your sewer cleanout. The cleanout is usually a small pipe, about 4-inches in diameter, outside your house that is used to access the sewer lateral for cleaning. You will normally find it near the house (where the sewer lateral comes out) and/or near the property line (where the sewer lateral connects to the main sewer line). Make sure the cap to the cleanout pipe is not missing and has not been damaged (such as by a lawn mower). Replace missing caps so that rainwater cannot get into the sewer line.


– Check to see that outdoor patio, deck or yard drains are not connected to the sewer. Also, be sure that pool or pond overflow drains are not connected to the sewer. These connections are not allowed by the Lake County Sewer Use Ordinance. You may want to call your plumber to assist you in checking your connection.


You also can call Lake County Special Districts at 707-263-0119 for assistance.


We urge you to voluntarily take steps to find and correct any potential problems on your property.


Mark Dellinger is administrator for Lake County Special Districts.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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