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Preventing Wastewater Spills

back to Collection System Maintenance Division

Many ENV specialists come to the Sand Island command center from the field, so they are well-versed in all aspects of the collection system, including pump station operations. Training on the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition computers takes about six

The majority of spills continue to be grease, roots and debris.  Other common factors associated with spills are broken or sagging pipes and wet weather.

ENV conducts a preventive maintenance (PM) program implementing various facets to address both grease and roots in the city's sewer lines. 
ENV's Collection System Maintenance utilizes high-pressure Vactor trucks to flush grease from sewer lines, while addressing roots by mechanical and chemical approaches.  Crews insert rods with sharp cutters into the ends of affected pipes to cut away intruding roots.  After this process is completed, crews shoot a foam poison through the pipes to deter roots from growing for the next six to 12 months.

Smoke testing, which blows non-toxic smoke into sewer lines, records where it appears through broken pipes and other illegal connections.  Additionally, the Environmental Quality's Regulatory Control Branch of ENV addresses commercial grease and cleanouts and other paths on private properties.  These areas allow rainwater inflow and infiltration to enter and overwhelm the sewer system causing spills.

Additionally, the Environmental Quality’s Regulatory Control Branch of ENV addresses commercial grease addresses commercial grease from restaurants and residential grease through its FOG (fats, oil, grease) program, which includes inspections, investigation of problem areas, follow-up warnings and enforcement actions, along with outreach and educational programs.


Last Reviewed: Thursday, November 21, 2013