Preventing Illegal Connections
Protecting the Sanitary Collection System
Sewer water belongs in our system. Ground and rainwater don't. Inflow is the water entering the system from roof drains, open stairwell drains, strip or yard area drains and sump pumps hooked into the sanitary. Inflow has an immediate impact on the collection system, and is proportional to the amount of rainfall.
On May 19, 1998, 1.8 inches of rain fell in about two hours. Flow of wastewater to the DeKalb Sanitary District plant went from 7 million gallons at 4:30 P.M. to 32.1 million gallons at 5:37 P.M. This increase of 25.1 million gallons in about an hour was not brought about by toilets flushing, but by rainwater entering the sanitary collection system through illegal connections.
Illegal Stormwater Connections Inspections
A Joint Effort by the City and the District
A jointly funded (DeKalb Sanitary District and the City of DeKalb) Illegal Connections Inspection Program was begun in 1988 to identify and correct illegal connections to the sanitary sewers from private properties. Between then and 1995, every house, commercial and industrial building was inspected. Foundation water sump pumps, roof drainage and area drains were inspected and dye-water traced (if necessary) to determine where they discharged. When sources of non-sanitary water were found to be tributary to the sanitary sewers, property owners were asked to disconnect the offending source.
A Continuing Program to Identify Illegal Connections
This effort is ongoing. Several problems of this sort are discovered each year, usually when they create backups or flooding for the homeowner or neighbors. When discovered by either the City or the District, the home or property owner is required to correct the illegal connection within 90 days.
Education about Stormwater Connections
What Is an Illegal Connection?
There are three kinds of illegal connections that have been found in DeKalb.
- One sump pump serving both foundation drains (storm water) and sanitary facilities (sanitary sewage). Such connections must be separated to provide for sanitary facilities to drain into the sanitary sewer and foundation drains to discharge to the storm sewer or over land.
- Separate sump(s) connecting foundation drains to the sanitary sewer. If a sump pump serving foundation drains discharges through an underground pipe to the outside in a direction where there is no storm sewer, there is most likely an illegal connection to the sanitary sewer. Dye can be used to find out for sure.
- Downspout connected to the sanitary sewer. Roof drains are connected to downspouts. The downspout may be connected legally to the foundation drain as long as the foundation drain is not connected to the sanitary sewer.
What Does a Legal Connection Look Like?
- Roof drains, gutters, downspouts, sump pumps and footing tiles (foundation drains) hook to the City of DeKalb Street Sewer System.
- Sinks, toilets, wash tubs, washing machines, and floor drains hook to the DeKalb Sanitary District Sanitary Wastewater Collection System.