Sewer Rehabilitation: A Waste of Time and Money?

Environmentalists ask, why are there sewer overflows? Drivers ask, why is there construction traffic? Everyone asks, why is my sewer bill so high? Great questions! Fortunately, there are even better questions that we hear rarely – or never; Why can’t I use the water in my house? Why can’t we use our bathroom? Those “better questions” have a great five-word answer: Preventative maintenance and sewer rehabilitation. So this article is devoted to the topic of sewer rehabilitation.

Here’s what the EPA has to say about sewer rehabilitation: “Sanitary sewer collection systems are designed to remove wastewater from homes and other buildings and convey it to a wastewater treatment plant. The collection system is a critical element in the successful performance of the wastewater treatment process. EPA estimates that collection systems in the U.S. have a total replacement value between $1 and $2 trillion. Under certain conditions, poorly designed, built, managed, operated, and/or maintained systems can pose risks to public health, the environment, or both. These risks arise from sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) from the collection system or by compromised performance of the wastewater treatment plant. Effective and continuous management, operation, and maintenance, as well as ensuring adequate capacity and rehabilitation when necessary, are critical to maintaining collection system capacity and performance while extending the life of the system.” (EPA’s : Guide For Evaluating Capacity, Management, Operation, And Maintenance Programs At Sanitary Sewer Collection Systems)

Notice that last line: Effective and continuous management, operation, and maintenance are critical.” At the same time, we all have budgets. We can’t rehabilitate every sewer every year. So what’s a municipality to do?

Breakthroughs in advanced inspection technology allow engineers and municipalities to better predict when a sewer pipe is going to fail. Historically, emergency response sewer repairs are 2 to 3 times the cost of planned sewer rehabilitation. Being able to focus on the actual problems within the sewer system has allowed cities to stretch their budgets and increase the number of sewer rehab projects across the country. Additionally, focusing sewer rehabilitation and maintenance have helped ensure the original pipes reach their specified service life.

Sewer rehabilitation is the primary way that public works treatment facilities can sustain sewer usage fees and reduce fines and violations. Although methods vary depending on a sewer pipe’s size, location and requirements, all projects that are conveyance sewer rehabilitation projects are performed to increase the flow and type to the treatment plant.

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