With the purchase of a used VacCon sewer truck; several customers have asked questions about what this truck will be used for and why the City needed it. The City Public Works Department is responsible for the yearly maintenance to the sanitary sewer system. This system is made up of 118,625 feet of mains and 365 manholes and 4 lift stations. What are sanitary sewer mains? Everything you flush down your home’s toilets and sinks goes to the sanitary sewer main. This includes wasted water from water-based appliances such as dishwashers and clothes washers. Sanitary sewer mains carry this waste to the wastewater treatment plant where it is treated before being discharged. Manholes are access points to the sanitary sewer.
Sewer main cleaning helps prevent blockages and backups by removing build-up in the mains including tree roots, grease, grit and sand. This important maintenance work keeps our sewer mains flowing, reduces the potential for nuisance odours, and helps protect our infrastructure. Sewer main cleaning is also done for CCTV inspection work. These inspections allow us to see the condition of our sewer mains and make necessary repairs or replacements. The City doesn’t have CCTV equipment, however will plan to purchase equipment in the coming years.
What can our customers expect during cleaning? Customers might experience air pressure in the sewer that can create noise in sewer pipes, and may cause water to splash out through toilets, sinks and drains. Keeping toilet lids closed, and sink drains plugged when not in use will help avoid spills. This is referred to as blowback. Sewer cleaning can create short-term nuisance odors. Odors can be cleared by opening a window for a few minutes, and running water down sink and bathtub drains, flushing toilets, and pouring a pail of water into basement floor drains. No chemicals are used in sewer main cleaning. High pressure water is used to loosen debris and flush pipes. A high-powered vacuum on the VacCon sewer truck then removes debris from the pipe, and it’s transported to the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant for processing and disposal. Toilets, sinks and other appliances can still be used during cleaning.
What can our customers do to assist in this process? Occasionally adding water to sink and floor drains to prevent sewer gases from entering your homes. Also checking your plumbing vents each spring and fall for blockages (e.g. bird nests or leaves). You can also help keep the City’s and your home’s sewer pipes free from blockages by using sinks and toilets properly. Don’t use your toilet or sink as a garbage can. Dispose of garbage, household hazardous waste, medications and all food items, especially grease and oil, properly.
Don’t flush those “flushable” products. Flushable wipes and other such products don’t biodegrade and can lead to blockages in sewer pipes. The City of Phillipsburg learned this lesson the hard way last year. Those products cannot pass through the lift station pumps. This causes the pumps to plug up and burn up. This was the case last spring when the city went through five pumps in three months. These pumps are approximately $5,500 each to rebuild.
The City is sharing this information with our customers to increase awareness. We ask for the community’s assistance in abiding by these guideline and assisting in the preservation of our sanitary sewer infrastructure.