Sanitary Sewer Capacity Improvement Plan

Addressing Sanitary Sewer Backup Issues

The City of Wheaton recognizes that sanitary sewer backups are a prime concern of Wheaton residents and their quality of life. To address this problem, the City of Wheaton and the Wheaton Sanitary District developed a long-range plan that will ultimately increase capacity and reduce excess flow in the sanitary sewer system.

The long-range plan is costly and is estimated to take 10 years to fully complete. In the interim, residents who experience sanitary sewer backups can take advantage of the Overhead Sewer Private Property Protection Program (PDF).

Read on to understand what is causing the backups and how the City and the Wheaton Sanitary District are addressing the issue.

The Problem

Due to the age and condition of the City’s sanitary sewer system, stormwater runoff and groundwater can enter the sanitary sewer system through pipe and manhole defects. When this happens, flow in certain segments of the sanitary sewer system exceed the capacity of the sewer pipe, resulting in backups into the lower levels of buildings and/or overflows out of manholes and onto the ground.

In addition to being a problem for property owners, sanitary sewer overflows also violate the Federal Clean Water Act. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency is developing rules and regulations for sewer system operators to follow to reduce and/or eliminate overflows. The City and Wheaton Sanitary District’s major goal is to begin addressing sanitary sewer overflows prior to the EPA finalizing its regulations and imposing a timeframe for compliance.

Addressing the Problem

In 2005, the Wheaton Sanitary District commissioned an engineering study to develop a Wet Weather Facility Plan for their wastewater treatment plant and the sanitary sewer collection system feeding into the plant. The result of the study was the development of the original Sanitary Sewer Capacity Assurance Capital Improvement Plan to reduce sanitary sewer backups and overflows during wet weather.

Sanitary Sewer Capacity Improvement Plan

The Sanitary Sewer Capacity Assurance Capital Improvement Plan is a prioritized listing of improvements that will be made to increase the sanitary sewer system’s capacity during wet weather conditions. The plan includes both increases to the capacity of the system and repairs to reduce the amount of stormwater and groundwater that can infiltrate the system.

The City’s Sanitary Sewer Capital Improvement Plan is comprised of work in two areas: capacity increases, and sewer system investigation and rehabilitation. These are interrelated because where sanitary sewers can be rehabilitated, fewer structural upgrades are necessary.

Capacity increases involve replacing sanitary sewer pipes in with larger diameter pipes or installing storage to increase the capacity in problem areas. To see a conceptual plan for these upgrades, see the South Side Interceptor Modeling Study (PDF).

Also, a sanitary sewer evaluation survey (SSES) will identify specific locations where stormwater or groundwater are entering the sewer system using methods such as smoke testing, closed-circuit televising and dye testing. These areas will be rehabilitated through the repair of both public and private portions of the sanitary sewer system.