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Watertown Officials: Don't Pump Into Sanitary Sewer

March 24, 2011, 10:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Watertown Officials: Don't Pump Into Sanitary Sewer
WATERTOWN, SD - The peek flooding in Watertown isn't expected for another week or more. That has the city working to prevent any sewage back up problems before it hits.

The city's waste water treatment plant is already seeing much more sewage flow than usual.

"And that's going to come up in somebody's basement or somebody's floor level," plant superintendent Mike Boerger said.

Boerger warns that could happen if the system is faced with too much more water. The plant usually handles less than three million gallons of sewage a day; now it’s seeing nearly eight million.

The problem is, some people are running their sump pumps down the drain at home. They should be running them to the curb.

"It is a violation of city ordinance,” Assistant Police Chief Scott McMahon said. “At this time what we want to do is just get the situation corrected."

The treatment plant can tell if a particular neighborhood in town has higher flows through the sanitary sewer. When that's noticed, the police department sends officers to warn people to run their pump hoses outside.

"Thus far everybody has been compliant but if we do encounter a situation where a homeowner is not compliant we will have to follow up with further action," McMahon said.

The treatment plant could in theory handle a few million more gallons of sewage a day before maxing out. But city officials don't want to test the system's capacity. They're looking for city-wide compliance instead.

Sewer back-up in people's homes is just the first problem officials would expect if any part of the system is overwhelmed. The treatment plants superintendent warns the entire system could be overwhelmed if too many people run their sump pumps into it. And then everyone could lose the service for a time.

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