WALKER — The city’s sewage system will benefit from new regulations requiring residents to keep their own lines linked to city sewers in acceptable repair and free of clogging items, Mayor Bobby Font said Tuesday.
The City Council approved an ordinance Monday that requires homeowners to fix leaks in their lines if those leaks allow rainwater to drain into the city sewer system.
Under the ordinance adopted without a dissenting vote, the city will have the power to step in and make repairs if homeowners do not act within a reasonable time after being notified of a problem.
Homeowners would be billed for the city’s work, said Fred Raiford, Font’s chief of staff.
Homeowners who are notified that their lines to the city sewers are allowing an influx of rainwater would receive letters prompting them to repair the problem.
Raiford said he foresees requiring homeowners to take action in 60 days unless there are extenuating circumstances.
The infiltration of rainwater into the sewer system is causing extreme problems for the municipal sewage treatment plant, Raiford said.
When excessive rainwater gets into the sewer system, it causes the plant to operate inefficiently, Raiford said.
Further, putting rainwater into the city sewer system is a direct violation of the U.S. Clean Water Act, he said.
Smoke tests in several areas of the city uncovered 65 locations that had storm water sources tied into the sewer system, Raiford said.
Font said smoke from the tests floated up in places it shouldn’t have, including from some people’s gutters.
In some cases, people have tied all of their gutters into their lines to the sewer system or drilled holes in their sewer lines allowing rainwater to flow into the sewer system in order to keep water dumped by rainstorms out of their yards, Font said.
All of the water going to the sewage treatment plant has to be treated, so having to treat rainwater is an unnecessary expense for taxpayers, Font said.
The council also unanimously voted for an ordinance to inform people what materials can be placed in the sewer system without causing damage.
Cases in which violators may have to pay for repairs include causing repeated damage by putting grease, diapers or
other improper items or material into the sewer system, he said.