Wastewater Collection & Treatment
The Public Works Department carries out the operation and maintenance of the city wastewater collection and treatment system through two separate divisions. The collection system functions fall under the utilities maintenance subdivision of the Water / Utilities Division. Water reclamation operations are a separate division within the department. The Water Reclamation Facility Superintendent heads the Water Reclamation Division.
Collection System Function
Collection system functions consist of cleaning, inspecting, and repairing sewer lines and lift stations to ensure the consistent, trouble free conveyance of wastewater to the reclamation facility for treatment. These tasks are carried out by a staff of three 3 full-time employees, under the direction of the Water / Utilities Division Superintendent. The division hired three full-time summer employees to help manage the distribution and collection system maintenance and utility locates.
Sanitary Sewer Cleaning/Maintenance
Public works is responsible to inspect and maintain the collection system infrastructure and the sanitary lift stations and ensure uninterrupted collection of wastewater.
The City has 118 miles of sanitary sewer lines. Most of the lines are in the street. Some run through utility easements in grassy areas. Each year, the Public Works department cleans approximately one-third of the City's sanitary sewer lines. Lines requiring a higher level of maintenance are cleaned annually or semi-annually. This routine maintenance helps to prevent blockages and backups.
The sanitary sewer lines are cleaned using high performance sewer cleaning equipment. A cleaning nozzle is propelled from one manhole to the next using water under high pressure. The nozzle is then pulled back to the starting manhole. As the nozzle is pulled back, water scours the inside of the sanitary sewer pipe. Any debris in the pipe is pulled back with the water. The debris is removed from the manhole with a vacuum unit. If roots are found, they are cut with a root cutter. This process is repeated on every sewer line cleaned.
Keep Your Toilet Bowl Lid Down!
Summer is the season for sewer cleaning. Each year, the Public Works department cleans approximately one-third of the City's sanitary sewer lines. The sanitary sewer lines are cleaned using high performance sewer cleaning equipment. A cleaning nozzle is propelled from one manhole to the next using water under high pressure. The nozzle is then pulled back to the starting manhole. As the nozzle is pulled back, water scours the inside of the sanitary sewer pipe. Any debris in the pipe is pulled back with the water. The debris is removed from the manhole with a vacuum unit. If roots are found, they are cut with a root cutter. This process is repeated on every sewer line cleaned.
During cleaning of sanitary sewer lines, air occasionally vents into a home through the sanitary sewer service line and ventilation system. When this happens water in the toilet bowl can bubble or surge or, in rare cases, splash out of the bowl. The common causes of air venting into homes during sanitary sewer cleaning are: air movement from normal cleaning operations, the use of higher pressure necessary when cleaning sanitary sewer lines that have a steep slope, sewer lines running close to the building, a plugged roof vent, and the size and complexity of the home's waste and ventilation system. So, to minimize water splashing out of your toilet bowl, make it a habit to keep the lid down.
If you have a sewer backup and do not know where the blockage is, you should contact the City before contacting a drain cleaning company. You may be able to avoid an unnecessary charge if the problem is in the City’s sewer line rather than in your property’s service line. A Public Works employee will determine if the problem is in the City’s line or in your property’s service line.
Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 507-333-0361 (Public Works)
After hours, weekends and holidays. 507-334-4305 (Police Dispatch)
The property owner is responsible for clearing any blockage in the service line between the home and the City sanitary sewer main. This includes debris and tree roots. The property owner is also responsible for cleaning and repairing any damage done to the property by the backup.
The City is not automatically liable for blockages in the City’s sanitary sewer system. The City is only liable for those damages if the backup was caused by the City’s negligence.
Most homeowner insurance policies exclude damage resulting from sewer backups. Many insurance providers do have insurance riders that can be purchased to insure loss due to sewer backups.
Sanitary sewer line blockages are typically caused by roots, grease, and improper disposal of items. Tree roots can enter the sanitary sewer system at joints and cracks in the sewer service lines and mains. Grease can solidify in the sewer lines and restrict other waste from flowing through. The lines can be blocked by items like disposable diapers, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, washing machine lint, or other items improperly flushed down the drain or toilet.
The property owner is responsible for any repairs on the service line from the home to, and including, the connection at the property line.
Floor and sink drains usually have water filling the bottom of the drain trap which acts as a barrier between the air in the sewer line and the air in your home. When a drain trap becomes dry, sewer odors can enter into the residence. If you experience sewer odors in your home, run water down your drain.