In the event of a sewer back up, customers are encouraged to contact the city immediately. City staff will determine whether the main sewer line is clear before the resident incurs professional charges from a plumber. If a plumber is called before contacting the city and it is determined that the problem is on the city's line, the customer will not be reimbursed for the plumber's charges.
The city will correct problems that occur in the city line without charge to the customer. Problems that occur on the customer's private service line are the responsibility of the customer.
Service Line Maintenance
Utility customers can take steps to minimize the risk of unpleasant sewer backups. Service lines should be cleaned on a regular basis and can be inspected using a small camera to identify and locate problems. Older sewer service lines should have maintenance performed more frequently.
Unnecessary problems can be avoided by refraining from dumping kitchen grease down the drain, never flushing baby wipes or paper towels, and avoiding planting trees over sewer service lines or mains.
Tree roots can be a real menace to sewer lines, causing damage and blockages. Tree roots seek the moisture and nutrients from leaky sewer lines.
The Sewer Division controls roots by applying a mild herbicide from within the sanitary sewer. The herbicide kills roots in a confined area within and around the sanitary sewer line. The herbicide is effective in killing the problem roots, is not harmful to the tree, and is approved by the EPA.
Root problems in the customer's private service line are the responsibility of the customer. The city does not provide root herbicides, rodding equipment, or sewer camera for use on service lines.
Damage Reimbursement Policy
City utility customers have additional protections against the cost of sewer backups as a result of a new “No-Fault Sanitary Sewer Backup Damage Reimbursement” policy. The reimbursement policy (Municipal Code Section 3-5-19) provides assistance to individuals who have experienced property damage as a direct result of a sewer backup, even in cases where the City is not at fault.
The City will pay reimbursements from a special fund fueled by a $0.25/month fee that appears on customer utility bills.
The City’s risk manager evaluates claims and determines an appropriate reimbursement amount based on the extent of damage and need. Due to limited fund resources, reimbursements do not apply to situations where widespread damage results from forces of nature or other events outside of the City’s control.