Identifying Excess Water in Sewer Systems is Critical

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The wettest year in Michigan is behind us, but the full impact on your community’s sewers and wastewater treatment systems may not be known until later this spring or summer.

Wet weather and high groundwater can raise havoc for municipal leaders trying to keep excess clear rainwater or groundwater from coming into the sewer system. The excess water can be very expensive to handle because it uses capacity of the sewer piping and treatment system. If the sewers can’t handle the flows, backups into basements and overflows are possible.

In addition, the excess flows may affect the quality of treatment at your plant or cause overflows of partially treated wastewater to your nearby lake or river creating health hazards and costly permit violations. Failure to get the water out of the system can force communities to install bigger sewers and expand the wastewater plant.

Onekama Village officials last year worked on alleviating concerns that the water that doesn’t need to be treated isn’t overloading their collection system and wastewater treatment facilities. They took advantage of the SAW Program (Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater Grant Program) to evaluate their infiltration and inflow (I/I) issues.

“We wanted to get a pretty good picture of our system,” said Bob Gronostalski, Onekama’s maintenance technician. “We needed to know what’s actually going on inside the pipes.

“It was a tough year because our lake water levels were so high and breaching the seawalls and our groundwater was so high. You only had to dig about a half foot down and you got water.”

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