Can Heavy Rain Cause Sewer Backup?

Can Heavy Rain Cause Sewer Backup?

Heavy rain is a fact of life in most areas around the world. While it can be refreshing and calming to see, it also brings with it a number of issues that have to be considered. Oftentimes many people associate heavy rain with flooding and sewer backup. Although flooding and sewer backup are more common occurrences after heavy rain, this does not mean that rain is the main cause of these occurrences. Instead, the influx of water observed during heavy rain most often exposes flaws or pre-existing issues with the sewer and drainage systems. Making this important distinction when dealing with these issues is vital to knowing how to properly prepare your sewer systems for heavy rain.

Types of City Sewer Backups After Heavy Rain

While heavy rain is not necessarily the root cause of city sewer backups, it is, however, important to understand the several types of issues associated with city sewer backups and precipitation. Heavy rain can be an issue for city sewer lines as it creates an increase in the amount of water flowing through your pipes, potentially causing more damage to your property. In order to be prepared for whatever situation may arise, it is important to know what can contribute to a city sewer backup and the best solutions to mitigate damage.

Flooding

One common contributor to city sewer backups after heavy rain is flooding. In this instance flooding will be referred to differently than an excess of rain. This means that flooding can come from a breach in local levees or even surges from powerful storms such as hurricanes.

Additionally, in many parts of the country a less commonly known issue is extremely prevalent. This issue is known as groundwater flooding. This occurs when the local water table underground becomes so heavily saturated that it actually rises above ground level. Groundwater flooding can become exaggerated and worsened when sewage and drainage systems have breaches in them. When this happens, sewage can become mixed with flood waters which can slow the waters from returning to normal levels and result in a city sewer backup.

Tree Roots in Sewer Line

Breaches in city sewer lines can cause severe issues during heavy rain events. One of the most common breaches in sewer lines is caused by tree roots. For many parts of the country, communities pride themselves on having beautiful landscaping, utilizing trees including oaks and banyans which have some of the most vast root systems in nature. The root systems of these trees often grow around sewer systems which can cause cracks in the lines. They have even been known to grow directly into the sewer system. Not only does this cause the issues associated with breaches in sewer lines but, this also puts added stress on the line during storms which can lead to catastrophic sewage failures and a city sewer backups.

Storm Debris

Another contributor to city sewer backups is storm debris. Storm debris can come in many forms such as uprooted plants and trees, loose garbage, broken street signs, and even pieces of buildings and vehicles depending on the severity of the storm. Many people might argue that storm debris is hard to prepare for since most storm debris accumulates during storms themselves. Although this is true, it is important to have your sewer lines inspected after storms to clear storm debris after the fact to prevent worsened flooding in the future. If storm debris is left in sewer lines then even light rainfalls can lead to flooding and a city sewer backup.

Sewer Line Inspections Help Mitigate Sewer Overflow from Heavy Rain

With so many potential causes for blocking and damaging city sewer lines, it is important to take proactive measures to mitigate and prevent city sewer backup. Performing routine sewer line inspections can help identify potential line issues before they become a serious threat. City sewer backups and overflows cause a number of problems including bacteria contamination, property destruction, and even compromise infrastructure among many other problems. A relevant example of this type of issue was seen on the coast of Florida after hurricane Ian in September of 2022. In the first week alone after hurricane Ian, “357,300 gallons of raw sewage were discharged from city manholes in the south beaches area.” This type of catastrophic city sewer backup could have been prevented if sewer line inspections were conducted before the storm. While many sewer line backups are not caused by large storm events like hurricanes, they can come from everyday rainstorms. This makes it pertinent to have regular sewer line inspections to avoid extreme outcomes.

Infosense Does Sewer Inspections Which Can Help Prevent Flooding

Now that you know about the importance of sewer inspections, where should you go to have the highest quality inspections? Infosense provides high quality sewer inspections that can help prevent flooding and city sewer backups by using our unique Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Test (SL-RAT) technology in conjunction with our amazing Sewer Line Data Organizer (SL-DOG) program to produce accurate scans in comprehensive data sets. Heavy rain can happen at any time, don’t wait for a catastrophe to get your sewers inspected. Contact us today to learn more!

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Are Flushable Wipes Really Flushable

Can You Flush Flushable or Disposable Wipes?

Flushable wipes are commonly used in various households and institutions, including schools, offices, and daycares. Many people use these wipes daily and they typically end up in the toilet and down the drain. Since the name implies that they can be flushed after use, many assume that they dissolve completely when flushed. However, it has been recently discovered that not all of these wipes are safe to flush.

Can You Flush Baby Wipes and Do They Cause Sewer Blockage?

These products can be flushed just like any other wet wipes, however, it does depend on the material of the wipe. If the wipe contains plastic, then it will not be able to completely dissolve. For example, in England, there is a widespread issue with non-disposable wet wipes. This issue has become so great that there is actually an island that has formed in the middle of the Thames River and is almost entirely made of wet wipes. This island has become so vast that it is now the size of two tennis courts. Not only is this island an eyesore, but it also has a negative impact on the surrounding wildlife by releasing microplastics into their ecosystem. Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that are found in our oceans and elsewhere. They are part of the larger problem of plastic pollution, which has been linked to many detrimental impacts on the environment, as well as human health. These microplastics poison the food source of many animals that we consume which, in turn, also makes the food toxic for us to consume.

Sewer Line Condition Assessment and Acoustic Inspection Technology

The importance of sewer line condition assessment cannot be overstated. These inspections are a great way to determine if there is any buildup or other issues that need to be addressed inside the sewer line. When there is an issue in the sewer line, whether it is grease, roots, or disposable wipes, one of the best ways to conduct a sewer line inspection quickly is with acoustic technology.

Traditional methods, like closed caption television (CCTV), robotic cameras, are used to see along the entire length of the pipe. This can be time consuming and expensive. On average, a camera operator will inspect approximately 1,800-2,000 ft of sewer line per day. The cost to inspect one foot of sewer line can range anywhere from $.75 – $1.90.

Acoustic technology is an alternative inspection tool used to prioritize which sewer lines are in need of CCTV inspection. This technology uses high frequency sound to determine the available capacity within the sewer line. On average, only 18-20% of wastewater collection systems should need CCTV inspection. The problem is, determining which 18-20% to inspect. Using an acoustic sewer line rapid assessment tool helps cities find blockages caused by disposable wipes, grease, roots, or other blockages in less than 180 seconds. The tool can be easily deployed and inspects approximately 20,000 feet per day or more at a cost of only $.25 per foot.

CCTV Sewer Inspections Can Help Determine How to Fix Sanitary Sewer Overflows

A Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) is a hidden problem within every sanitary sewer system in America. The results of an untreated wastewater overflow being released into the environment can be destructive on many levels. SSOs can occur when there is a blockage or failure of a sewer pipe or fixture during heavy rains, or when wastewater is released through a manhole or other opening.

Sanitary sewer overflows have been the subject of much debate and controversy in recent years. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are approximately 240,000 sanitary sewer overflows that occur each year in the United States alone. The EPA has also stated that SSOs contribute to pollution of surface waters, groundwater contamination, and human health problems.

To help reduce the number of these overflows, as well as their impact on public health and the environment, cities across America are increasingly implementing costly CCTV sewer inspection programs. These are designed to identify areas where SSOs may be occurring. In this way, they can be fixed before they cause damage to property or public health issues for local residents.

How InfoSense’s Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool (SL-RAT) Makes Sewer Inspections Easier and Cost Effective

The Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool (SL-RAT) is the most efficient way to get a quick snapshot of what’s going on in your sewer lines. SL-RATs help you make more educated decisions about how to repair your sewer lines and prevent problems from arising in the future. InfoSense’s SL-RAT is so effective because it uses non-invasive acoustic sound technology to map all of your pipes. In addition, it saves you time and money by identifying potential problems before they become overflow issues.

Save Time and Resources With InfoSense

Municipalities struggle to find the manpower to inspect the right sewer pipes. The sewer trucks and CCTV equipment used to clean their sewer systems can cost approximately $750,000+. The equipment wastes millions of gallons of clean water annually, increases our carbon footprint, and requires millions of manpower hours to operate. Having an SL-RAT only requires battery charging, a pickup truck, and two man crew. Switching to an acoustic technology significantly improves collection system performance and eliminates environmental waste.

Schedule a Demo today to see how Infosense can help you save both your pipes and your wallet!

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Muldrow, OK Meets Compliance Needs by Meshing Old with New

February’s feature article in Municipal Sewer and Water features the Town of Muldrow in Oklahoma, who is understanding the risks lurking in their collection system and meeting compliance needs, while performing all preventative maintenance in-house with a lean crew.

“Incorporating the SL-RAT for assessing our whole collections system, which is fairly spread out, was an enlightening moment for everybody within our staff. It enabled us to get out in the field, pop manholes, investigate them quickly and see all of the problems that we had throughout the collections system.”

-Matthew Duke

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Colorado Special Districts Pool Approves RH Borden Process

The Colorado Special Districts Property and Liability Pool announced the approval of an annual condition-based maintenance process provided by RH Borden “as an acceptable Best Practice alternative methodology for sewer maintenance as well as … fully compliant with the CSD Pool Sanitation Maintenance Warranty Program.” The SL-RAT helps collection system managers improve maintenance efficiency by identifying risk areas and reducing unnecessary cleaning. This approach helps to reduce water usage while integrating a process for maintaining a cloud-based GIS system of sewer assets.

The approval of this condition-based maintenance program allows CSD Pool members to receive a 5% group purchase discount on equipment and services from RH Borden, and “may effect a 33% discount on General Liability coverage.”

RH Borden has helped dozens of utilities in Utah and neighboring states with conducting acoustic inspections and manhole scanning. Learn more about RH Borden and Company here: https://www.rhbordenandcompany.com/

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SL-RAT saving Utah cities like Ivins water & money

The City of Ivins, UT, was maintaining their sewer lines like most utilities around the country – by cleaning the entire system on a time-based schedule. In Ivins case, they were cleaning 50 miles annually to prevent a handful of backup incidences. Since 2020, Ivins, Santa Clara and the Ash Creek Special Service District conducted a pilot acoustic inspection program with the help of R.H. Borden and Co.

Instead of cleaning every pipe, they discovered, by using the SL-RAT, that only 5% of the system actually required maintenance. Thousands of gallons of water, wear and tear on expensive cleaning equipment, and thousands of manhours were saved by inspecting prior to cleaning.

“This is the future. Eventually everyone will do it this way. I just feel like we saw a technology that might work, and it did.”

– Chuck Gillette, Ivins Public Works director

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Hillsborough County using SL-RAT to Fight Against Inflow and Infiltration

Rich Cummings, outgoing Director of Hillsborough County Field Maintenance Services Division, shares insights on what are effective tools for mitigating Inflow and Infiltration. Cummings recommends the Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool, or SL-RAT, as an easy way to quickly inspect sewer lines at low cost.

“This could tell me in less than one and a half minutes whether or not that system was good to go or wasn’t,” he says. “There’s nothing else out there that is even close to that.”

– Rich Cummings

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Cincinnati Integrates Innovative Solutions

This month’s Municipal Sewer & Water Magazine cover story features Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati’s implementation of innovative above-ground storm water conveyance solutions to reduce CSO events.

The Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool, or SL-RAT, is included in the list of tools MSDGC uses in their asset-management program. In 2014, MSDGC collaborated with the EPA in research demonstrating the use of the SL-RAT and seven years later, we’re glad the SL-RAT remains a relevant and innovative solution for risk mitigation!

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Clarkdale Uses Sound to Detect Sewer Blocks

The Town of Clarkdale, Arizona, will be working with contractors, R.H. Borden and Co., to proactively find blockages in their system with the SL-RAT. Using acoustic inspection costs the city 10% of traditional technologies and will help to map their entire system.

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Town of Midland, Ontario, using SL-RAT to inspect sewers twenty times faster

The Town of Midland in Ontario, Canada is using the SL-RAT to speed up their inspection process. By using acoustic inspection technology, they can focus costly cleaning and CCTV resources and increase sewer maintenance efficiency.

“Not only is this innovative technology helping to save an immense amount of time, but it’s also saving a considerable amount of resources, allowing us to shift those to other projects.”

– André Pepin, Acting Manager of Water & Wastewater Services.

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Oak Ridge Public Works using SL-RAT to find blockages

Oak Ridge Public Works, Tennessee, is using the SL-RAT to screen for blockages in their small diameter sewer lines. It’s always a good idea to alert residents that they may hear unusual sounds coming from their sewers!

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