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A sewer backup is usually caused by material that builds up inside a sewer pipe eventually slowing and blocking the flow of wastewater. Roots often grow into older sewer pipes through small cracks. These roots form a mat that can catch material. Cooking grease will also stick to anything in contact with the wastewater and can eventually build up into large deposits. These deposits, in turn, catch other material or can break off forming “grease logs” that can block a pipe. In recent years, the use of “flushable” wipes has proven to be a big problem for sewer operations. These wipes do not dissolve in water like toilet paper does, so they often collect along with roots and grease to contribute to clogging formation both in sewer pipes and at the treatment plant.
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It is important to limit what kinds of things you allow to go down your drain in either the home or a business. Sewer lines and treatment systems are not designed to handle certain wastes. Things that can cause problems include flammables, corrosives, toxins, excessive or incompatible solids, oil, grease, and others. In many cases, the greatest risk occurs at the point of discharge – the service line through the building and out to the sewer main in the street or alley. This line belongs to the building, not the Town, so damage or clogs in it are the responsibility of the owner.
To report a sewer overflow during business hours, please call Public Works at (307) 733-3079 or the Wastewater Treatment Plant at (307) 733-4203. If you notice a sewer overflow or backup after hours or on the weekend, please call Dispatch at (307) 733-2331 and the proper Public Works team will be notified. Please note that all lateral connections (connections going from a home or business to a sewer main) are the responsibility of the owner.
Prevention can save you money! Most sewer back-ups occur between the house and the Town's sewer main. If there is a blocked sewer service between the house and the Town's sewer main, the property owner is responsible for correcting the problem. Avoiding blockages means avoiding plumbing bills! When the blockage occurs in the Town's sewer main, the Town will correct the problem.
Flammable liquids release vapors that can travel up service lines, through dry floor drains to a source of ignition, such as a water heater, to cause an explosion. Acids can attack and destroy pipes. Toxins, along with flammables and acids, can harm the treatment plant bacteria, resulting in poorly cleaned wastewater. They can also endanger building occupants, the public or Town workers through fume exposure. Solids and grease will contribute to clogging both service lines and sewer mains to produce backups and can interfere with operations at the treatment plant. All hazardous material can be taken to the Recycling Center for proper disposal.
Normal domestic wastewater includes bathroom, kitchen, laundry and general cleaning wastewater. It should not include items like gasoline, solvents, acids, pesticides or herbicides or groundwater sump discharge which should be drained to the ground. The two biggest problem items discharged from homes are fats, oil, and grease (FOG) and "flushable" wipes.
Grease traps and interceptors are required for all new and relocated restaurants, bakeries, deli's, and anywhere that washes dishes. A grease trap (10 - 100 gallon) or an interceptor (750-1500 gallon) collects grease from a restaurant’s kitchen wastewater, preventing it from depositing in sewer piping. This also prevents sewer backups (grease build up) from happening in restaurants, which would cause the restaurant to be closed during such an event. Alternately, Best Management Practices (BMP's) may be used to limit the amount of grease released to the sewer. BMP's include scraping plates to the trash instead of using a grinder, wiping pots with paper towels before washing, screening solids from sink drains, posting signage of these requirements and ongoing employee training.
Grease Traps must be cleaned weekly unless less cleaning (frequency) may be determined upon inspection with Town staff. Interceptors must be cleaned twice a year, unless less cleaning may be determined by Town staff, when grease and solids reach 25% of the interceptor’s capacity. Records must be kept by the restaurant to show that regular inspections and cleaning were done. When pump out is required, you must select a company to completely empty the interceptor/grease trap and properly dispose of the material. Public Works Sewer staff inspects every grease trap and interceptor every year to make sure adequate cleaning is taking place. During the inspection, staff will be using this form to complete the inspection.
The most common cause of sewer gas smell is a dry water seal. Each drain contains a u-shaped pipe that traps a small amount of water to form a seal against sewer gasses rising into buildings. Drains that are seldom used can have this water evaporate over time allowing vapors to enter through the open piping. Pouring water down drains, including floor drains, can stop this problem. Non-toxic antifreeze, which is slower to evaporate, can also be used to vapor seal unused drains for longer periods. At time, sewer pipe venting located on a roof may become clogged or block (nests, bee hives, snow, etc) and this may cause sewer odor in a home or business.
The Town's Wastewater Plant is located 5 miles south of town near Melody Ranch.