Costly, Harmful and Illegal Dumping
There are hundreds of manholes over the sanitary sewer lines running throughout the West Central Conservancy District's 25,000-acre area, and illegal dumping of materials into those manholes can be a huge problem for the District. It is a problem Gary Padgett, supervisor of system operations, and his technicians deal with on an almost daily basis.
"Recently we had someone pull an RV up to one of our sanitary sewers and dump waste from the RV into our system." Padgett said. "Another problem is with septic tank waste haulers who put their waste down our manholes. You would be surprised what some people try to dump into the manholes."
Padgett explained that people who take these kinds of short-cuts don't realize how their actions can harm a wastewater treatment system that is operating for the benefit of the whole community. When unknown substances are dumped into the system, they can potentially kill or severely limit the biological process of treating wastewater.
"We've even had waste haulers dump grease they've collected from restaurant grease traps down the manholes," Padgett said. "This builds up in the sewer lines and limits the flow capacity of the collection system." Most people don't realize that whether they're waste haulers or private individuals, they can be charged a steep fine for dumping substances into the sanitary sewers.
From time to time, residents will purposely remove manhole covers during heavy rains to keep low-lying parts of their yards from flooding. "The additional 'clean liquid' that enters the sewer system means we're treating water that doesn't need to be treated," Padgett explained. "This can affect operating costs, and in turn, could affect rates and charges." For the same reason, people should not release water from sump pumps into the sanitary sewer manholes.
Anyone who purposely removes manhole covers is subject to a fine, Padgett said. When the manhole cover is off, all kinds of objects - rocks, tree limbs, yard waste, even toys - get thrown or slip into the system and can cause blockages that can result in wastewater backing up into customers' yards and homes.
Obviously, an open manhole also is very dangerous. Anyone - adults, children, pets - who is unaware that a manhole is open, especially if it is covered by water, is in danger of falling into a sewer that might be anywhere from 4- to 20-feet deep.
Storm sewers and sanitary sewers are separate systems. Storm water, street and yard drainage is the responsibility of the Town of Avon or Hendricks County, which provide the storm sewers.
To report illegal dumping of substances into the sanitary sewers, please call the District at 272-2980 or 491-3593.