There are two types of sewer systems, sanitary and storm water. The utility division of the public works department maintains the sanitary sewer system. The street division of the public works department, along with the engineering department, oversees the storm water sewer system.
The city of Minnetonka operates and maintains a 260-mile sanitary sewer collection system. Each year 90–110 miles of sewer line are cleaned and 20 miles of pipe are televised for inspection and repair purposes. The system contains 38 sanitary and storm water lift stations and 47 individual house pumps that are maintained by utility staff. Sewer flow is collected and passed to the Metropolitan Council Environmental Service’s interceptor and treatment systems.
Smell sewer gas?
That smell typically indicates a a problem with the plumbing system.
- A dry floor drain can evaporate in the summer, which a plumber can fix.
- Rarely, when a furnace starts up in the water, it can pull up sewer gas, which may be in the water.
Sanitary sewer back-ups
Sewer back-ups occur, despite the best of maintenance programs. If the city is negligent, the city’s insurance will reimburse for your clean-up costs. However, the vast majority of sewer back-ups occur from circumstances beyond the control of the city or the property owner. Here’s what you can do:
- Talk to the agent who writes your homeowner’s policy. Ask if you’ve got coverage for sewer back-up occurrences. This coverage is automatic in some policies, but in other cases you need to get a special or additional coverage. The premium is usually not too significant, and the coverage may be just what you need to clean up the mess.
- If you have your private sewer line cleaned, please call the city. Sometimes a sewer cleaning will release a tree root or other item that may cause a back-up down the line. If you let the city know, we can take steps to prevent blockages for others.
- Investigate as soon as you can if you notice floor drains backing up or slow drains. If the problem is not in your private line, it may be in the city line. Fast attention to these problems may prevent or lessen the severity of a back-up. If the problem is determined not to be in your line, call the city immediately.
This is definitely a case where preparation on your part can save you time and expense later.
Keep “flushable wipes” out of the sewer
The past few years have seen the introduction of more and more disposable wipe products for a variety of household uses. Many of these products are labeled as not only disposable, but also flushable.
While marketed as convenience items, these products may potentially become a huge inconvenience because they may clog not only the sewer on your property, but also cause blockages and backup problems in Minnetonka’s public sewer system and pump stations.
To understand how these wipes can become a problem, it’s important to know how the sewer system works. Every home has a sewer connection that runs from the home to the public sewer system. This sewer service line is the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain so there are no backups of wastewater into the home. From there, the sewage moves into larger collector lines, and pump stations help lift the wastewater across different elevations in the sewer system.
Why are household wipes a problem? Unlike toilet paper, these products don ’t break down once they are flushed. They can then cause blockages in your home sewer lines, especially in older pipelines that may have already existing grease, roots or other obstructions, resulting in the backup of sewage into the home. A repair of the service line can leave the homeowner with a nasty repair bill—often not covered by homeowners’ insurance—and an even nastier cleanup.
On a larger scale, when these products make their way into the public sewer system, they collect together and cause clogs in the collector lines and get tangled in lift pumps. When pump stations are clogged, they stop working and require cleaning and repair— or even replacement—in order to get the sewage moving again.
Avoid a nasty cleanup in your home and help protect the city’s sewer system by never flushing any consumer item that is not toilet paper into the sewer system, regardless of what the packaging promises. Put these items in the trash instead:
- Disinfecting wipes or baby wipes
- Cotton swabs
- Toilet cleaning pads
- Mop refills
- Paper towels
- Moist towelettes
- Feminine hygiene products
Not sure what should or shouldn’t be flushed? Remember this easy reminder: if it’s not toilet paper, and if you didn’t eat it or drink it first, it shouldn’t go in the toilet. When in doubt, don’t flush! For more information, contact Minnetonka Public Works at 952.988.8400.
Storm drain maintenance
If you see a storm drain, catch basin, or drainage way that is broken or not working properly, call 952.988.8400 or contact Minnetonka Mike.