In the past couple of articles, we’ve discussed both the water and wastewater treatment processes. Progressively, it would now make sense to cover the underground utilities department. Underground utilities is responsible for all the piping and metering infrastructure necessary for providing reliable water, wastewater and stormwater services to residents and businesses. Most of this infrastructure is not visible to the naked eye, so most of us tend not to think about it very much until our water main breaks, our sewer line causes a backup or we experience street flooding.
Underground utilities has five divisions. They include sewer collection, sewer inflow and infiltration, stormwater maintenance, water distribution, and water metering.
Sewer collection is responsible for the operation and maintenance of more than 114 miles of sanitary sewers and over 9,000 service laterals. The sewer collection staff also maintains six sewage lift stations and over seven miles of force main originating from Honda of America’s facility and two miles of force main that serve the Village of Port Jefferson.
The sewer inflow and infiltration (I&I) division was formed in 2013 and given responsibility for the removal of inflow and infiltration from the city’s sanitary sewer system. Inflow occurs when there is a direct connection to the sanitary sewer pipe such as a downspout drain or sump pump. Infiltration happens when there is a breach in the pipe such as a crack or a leaking joint. Roots can find the tiniest crack in a sewer line, and as they grow and expand, cause a larger crack that allows infiltration to occur.
Sewer inflow and infiltration uses high tech equipment to battle the problems within the city’s sewer system. This equipment includes a new television/grout truck. The grout is used in the main sewer and laterals to seal pipes with a coating that prevents infiltration.
Sewer inflow and infiltration also monitors and assesses the sewer system with computerized flow meters. This flow data is collected biweekly and put into a program to help track how rain events affect the system. As a result, we can determine where the city should concentrate its efforts to eliminate inflow and infiltration.
Stormwater maintenance is responsible for more than 6,275 miles of storm sewers, nine detention basins, seven river flap gates that provide flood protection, and 3,000 catch basins. In addition, there are two storm water lift stations maintained by our stormwater maintenance staff. They also respond to all flood events.
Water distribution is responsible for the operation and maintenance of over 114 miles of water main and over 9,500 service connections. The city’s water mains range in size from 3 inches in diameter to 24 inches in diameter. It is the primary responsibility of our water distribution staff to repair leaks and breaks within the distribution system. On the average, there are approximately 15-20 water main breaks annually. Water distribution also performs routine water main flushing activities twice each year.
The water metering division is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the city’s water meters, including the auto read system. This includes 8,500 residential and commercial water meters. They also are responsible for shutting off service to customers approximately 3,700 times annually, including 150 to 195 shut offs each month for nonpayment. They also repair or replace curb boxes, meter pits, and check for underground leaks.
Should you have questions about the underground utilities serving your home or business, don’t hesitate to contact Utilities Director Larry Broughton at 937-498-8152 or Underground Utilities Superintendent Stephen Rhodes at 937-498-8157.
The writer is the mayor of Sidney.