PUC: Fixing sump pump issue saves $50K a year

NEW ULM — A residential sump pump inspection program was completed last summer, and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) received a report Tuesday from Wastewater Treatment Plant supervisor Dan O’Connor.

In 2014, Wastewater staff began discussing steps to decrease the amount of clean water entering the wastewater stream through inflow and infiltration. Significant rain in 2014 inspired staff to look for solutions to the problem. Staff decided to begin focusing on improper sump pump hookups. The sump pump inspection program began in 2015 and was completed in 2017.

A total of 4,675 residential properties were inspected for sump pumps. Of the properties inspected, 23 percent (1,068 houses) were found to have sump pumps. Of the homes with sump pumps, 8 percent (84 homes) were found to have sump pumps discharging illegally to the city sanitary sewer.

O’Connor said it is difficult to quantify the impact these illegal hookups had on inflow, but an estimated 10 million gallons of water were removed from the wastewater system during the six-month rainy season. This is approximate cost savings to the Public Utilities rate payers of $50,000 annually.

The number of illegal sump pump hookups may have been higher. O’Connor said because the process took three years to finish, residents had time to correct the problem prior to the inspection.

There are still three residential customers resisting inspection. These customers are incurring a $50 monthly utility surcharge.

With the residential inspection completed the team wants to begin inspecting the downtown area and work with business owners to disconnect roof leaders that are illegally discharging inflow to the sanitary sewer.

Wastewater staff will continue working with the city to prioritize infrastructure repairs and rebuilds as well as lining pipes.

In other news, the PUC approved the purchase of an additional scale computing node.This node will expand the amount of storage. This purchase was budgeted for $13,000 and will cost $13,010.

Energy service representative Derek Nelson announced an upcoming steam education class scheduled for Jan. 29. The class is designed for steam customers, vendors, and District Energy staff.