Archive for Thursday, March 23, 2006

City looks to detach sump pumps

March 23, 2006

If all goes as planned, the days of residential sump pumps being connected to Eudora's sewer system are numbered.

Soon residents will see a questionnaire in their mailboxes drafted to assist the city in improving the operation of the wastewater system.

The questionnaire will be the first step in a series of actions taken by the city to curb inflow and infiltration. Recent studies conducted by BG Consultants have pinpointed the massive amounts of excess rainwater being pumped into the system as a major weakness for the city.

One major source of the excess water comes from the usage of sump pumps, City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said during a March 13 presentation to the Eudora City Council.

Beatty enacted a similar measure to curb the use of sump pumps during her tenure with the city of Kingman.

"We need to get those sump pumps disconnected and flowing out on to their yards and personal property," Beatty said.

The new measures will mainly affect older homes. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, residents were required to connect their sump pumps to the sewer system, but as water treatment has become more and more expensive, the excess water is no longer feasible for the city.

Newer homes were constructed without pumps plugged into the system.

Although the sump pump program is in its nascent stage, Beatty already has an idea of how to begin.

"We could begin by giving a series of public notices to people about a door-to-door inspection program we have," Beatty said.

Before the city would embark on the notices, it might take a cue from Ottawa.

"In Ottawa, the city sent out a questionnaire and let them answer the questions about do they have basement or sump pump or roof drain or not," Beatty said. "That was very helpful to identify specific target areas that we really needed to inspect."

Following the questionnaire, Beatty said the city would work more with the media to publicize the need to remove the pumps. At that point, the city will also contract an individual to make the door-to-door inspections and explain the reason for the switch on a one-to-one basis.

"After that is done, we would be giving notice to the people that they would have so many days to fix the problem," Beatty said.

Typically the cost to correct the sump pump problems would be from $25 to $75, Beatty said.

In rare cases, the procedure could run as much as $2,000.

"For those that are on the low end of cost repair, they could do it themselves or hire a plumber, either one, as long as they disconnect it, and then our city inspector would have to follow up," Beatty said.

If the household should be on the higher end of the price spectrum, the council would look into an exception.

Failure to disconnect the sump pump could eventually lead to fines assessed against taxes.

Councilmember Scott Hopson posed the question of how the council would react if a person racks up fines and is willfully ignoring notices.

City Engineer Brian Kingsley said removing sump pumps from the city system will benefit the city cumulatively.

"The one good thing to think about this, is that one person is not going to be quantifiable in the overall picture," Kingsley said.

Beatty said if it came to that, the violation would be referred to municipal court.

"We don't want to adopt something that's going to come back and cause us problems," Hopson said.

The council decided to direct City Attorney Jerry Cooley to start drafting the sump pump ordinance.

"This in total can take up to a year to two years to really get everybody in compliance. You have to remember there is only one person and he's going to have to be inspecting all these too," Beatty said.

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