In a community of a couple hundred homes, it only takes a few improperly connected sump pumps working in wet weather to cause a sanitary sewer backup into basements, streets, and waterways.
Why Sump Pumps Shouldn’t Discharge to the City Sewer
Discharging a sump pump into the city’s sanitary sewer system might seem like an easier and more attractive option than running a discharge tube from the sump pump to the exterior, but it is illegal. There are numerous reasons why property owners should care about inflow from illegal connections. These include impacts to your home and environment, increases in fees or utility rates, and tradeoffs with other investments in your community.
Property owners can be directly impacted in terms of health and property damage. A sewer system that is over capacity because of inflow can lead to sewer backups into the basement of your or your neighbor’s home. Sewer backups can result in health risks from wet and contaminated basements as well as thousands of dollars of damage that can take weeks or longer to repair. Insurance does not always cover sewer backups, so the costs of repairs can fall to property owners. You can do a quick inspection of your sump pump piping to ensure that the water is going outside. The sump pump should discharge to either the storm sewer (if a dedicated storm lateral is available) or better, to the lawn, at least 20 feet away from the home, for infiltration. Never direct water onto a street, alley, right of way, easement or neighboring property.
Wastewater treatment systems that are in place today were built to keep waterways clean for you to use. Preventing sewage overflows keeps our rivers clean and healthy. Keeping inflow out of your wastewater system can reduce negative impacts to the environment. When the wastewater system becomes over capacity due to inflow there is not only the potential for sewage to back up into homes and businesses, but also for overflows into the roads, drainage areas and streams.
Increased fees/utility rates
Like our roads, wastewater systems are designed to handle the peak capacity heavy rainfall for sewers is like rush hour for roads. To provide enough sewer capacity for now and future generations, the sewer pipes and treatment facilities are designed for those peak flows. The more clear water entering the system, the bigger all those facilities need to be and the more they cost. Reducing the peak flow caused by excessive inflow means communities and the region can spend less on those larger pipes and treatment plants.
EPA requirements for selenium and sulfate
The Pierre Shale formation that underlies the City of Pueblo contains large amounts of selenium and sulfate causing high concentrations in the groundwater. When this groundwater enters the collection system though infiltration or sump pumps, it causes the Pueblo Water Reclamation Facility to exceed the stream standards adopted by Colorado Water Quality Control Commission to meet EPA requirements.
Treatment for both parameters are technically challenging, expensive and have unacceptable environmental consequences.
It is imperative that the citizens work with the city to keep ground water out of the sanitary sewer to reduce the potential that Pueblo will be required to build this very expensive treatment to meet the stream standards. Please do your part by verifying that your sump pump and perimeter drains are not connected to the sanitary sewer.
It is where the sump pump discharges that maybe illegal, not the sump pump itself.
Sump pumps are used to pump groundwater to the outside of the basement of buildings. This groundwater may be discharged to exterior yard, nearby catch basin or storm drain. A sump pump is considered illegal when connected to the sanitary waste piping (sewer).
One incorrectly installed sump pump can add up to 7,200 gallons per day of clear water to the wastewater system. That is as much water as an average sized residential swimming pool!
Sump systems, similar to backwater sanitary valves, are not maintenance free. In order to best protect your home from flood damage, follow the pump manufacturer’s recommendations for servicing and maintenance of your pumps.
Sump pump discharge lines need to be equipped with a check valve which prevents the water contained in the pipe above the sump pump from flowing back into the sump when it shuts off.
Emergency Telephone Numbers for Sewer Problems
During the business day: 553-2898
At Night, on weekends or holidays: 553-2502
City crews are on 24 hour standby, including weekends and holidays.
City of Pueblo Wastewater Department
Nancy Keller, Wastewater Director 553-2894
Leon Marquez, Collection Supervisor 320-2900
John Lindstrom, Water Reclamation Superintendent 553-2866
Sonia Mondragon,Engineering Manager 553-2890