Making sure that our sewer mains are flowing is an important job. No one wants “that stuff” coming back into their home or business. Sewer systems are designed to use gravity to get sewage to the appropriate treatment facility. In areas where gravity flow is not possible, sewage will travel to a Sewer Lift Station where a pump will use pressure to push the sewage to a place it can again travel using gravity. There are two different types of sewer systems: sanitary sewer (the stuff that goes down your drains inside your home) and storm sewer (rain/snow melt that goes down the open grates in the curb of the street. At the BGUA, we only deal with sanitary sewer. The majority of the sewage from Byron Township and Gaines Charter Township has an ultimate destination for the City of Wyoming’s Clean Water Plant with a small portion going to Grand Rapids Water Resource Recovery Facility. For more information on the Clean Water Plant – City of Wyoming Clean Water Plant.
If there is a sewer back up in your home or business, you can call us and we will come out and check our sewer mains (by checking nearby sewer manholes) making sure they are not backed up. If there is no problem in the sewer main, a homeowner/business would need to call a plumber to help them find the cause and location of the back up. A home/business is responsible for piping from the home to the sewer main. Please review the following hand out for important step by step directions on what to do in the event of a sewer back up – Sewer Back Up Handout
If we see the sewage backed up in the sewer main, we will get that cleaned out immediately. How? We contact a service with a Vactor Truck. A Vactor Truck has a suction pump, a tank, and a high pressure water hose on it. Since sewage is meant to flow downhill, the Vactor Truck operator would go to the next clear downstream manhole and use their high pressure water hose to go upstream to the blockage and try to clear it. Ideally, once the blockage is broken up, regular flow would resume.
What would cause a sewer back up? Putting things down the toilet or sink that don’t belong. Did you know that flushing baby wipes, disinfecting wipes, disposable mop refills, disposable dusters, toss-in toilet bowl wands and paper towels can cause problems with the sanitary sewer system? These consumer products are often labeled as disposable but they can be responsible for clogging the sewer system and lift station pumps. Disposable does not mean flushable. The only thing that should go down the toilet is pee, poop and toilet paper. What can be flushed?
We have a maintenance program set up to regularly:
- Inspect Sewer Manholes – this involves taking the cover off the manhole and visually checking for flow (how much, how fast) obstructions (anything that could be piling up and not flowing well), or any signs of infiltration from other sources (excess ground water seeping in). Manholes give a snapshot of what is going on in the main at that opening. Manholes also give us access points in which to do further inspection with camera work. A sewer camera can navigate in a sewer main to show us all kinds of information: blockages, broken pipes, root infiltration etc. This information shows us what we need to do to maintain good sewage flow: having parts of the main jetted with a high pressure water hose, digging up and fixing broken/cracked pipe, removing the cause of root infiltration etc. Fun Fact: We have 4,449 manholes within Byron/Gaines Charter Township. We inspected 1078 manholes last year.
- Inspect/Maintain Sewer Lift Stations – There are currently 5 sewer lift stations within Byron Township and Gaines Charter Township. Each week we inspect these lift stations to make sure mechanical systems are working. A sewer lift station has a pump at the bottom to push the sewage upward in a pipe (under pressure) through sewer main to the next point it can again flow simply with gravity. Lift stations can back up also. We have two different alarms to notify us of a problem. Why do they back up? For the same reason that our sewer mains can back up…putting things down the toilet or sink that don’t belong. Not so fun fact: our lift station pumps can get bound up by things like dental floss, condoms, tampons, wipes, grease and other things that should not be put down the toilet/sink. It can cause our pumps to stop working properly.
- Inspect “Grease Interceptors” at restaurants and businesses. Restaurants and certain types of businesses have grease interceptors. Grease interceptors separate the grease and food waste and prevent them from entering the sanitary sewer. We inspect these regularly. Upon inspection, if the grease interceptor is full to a certain level, we require them to be cleaned. Grease is a huge contributor to sewer system back ups. Fun Fact: We inspected 498 grease traps in 2018.
Sewer Inspections/New Construction:
We inspect all new connections to the township sewer system. We inspect from the point of connection at the main to entrance into the home/business. We want to make sure the connection is secure, the new service is flowing downward according to our specifications, and that there are no obstructions in the new pipe. We also inspect any repairs done to the sanitary sewer. Fun Fact: BGUA inspected 281 new sewer connections in 2018.
Miss Dig is a service that can be used when digging will be done on a property. The Miss Dig service will send out a notification to any utility to let them know an address/location and date of an upcoming dig. All utilities will come out and mark their services. Once the BGUA gets a Miss Dig notification, we will mark any sewer related services in the public right-of-way with green paint and flags. We do not mark the sewer on the private side of the property.
Miss Dig can be contacted by going to www.missdig.org or by calling 811 or 1-800-482-7171.
If you have a sump pump in your home or business, it must be connected to discharge its water into the storm sewer or an approved location. A sump pump may not be connected to the sanitary sewer. Sump Pump Connection