Wastewater (Sewer) and Storm-water Collection Maintenance Section
This section maintains pipe and other equipment for both the storm-water and wastewater (sewer) collection systems.
Wastewater (sewer) System: This system consists of:
- 178 miles of gravity main
- 4 miles of force main
- 4 lift stations
- 3,404 manholes
The crew does main line cleaning (jetting), television inspection and repairs, inventorying existing sewer mains and all new sewer main installed on the city system. The staff is developing a GIS database of the system and will be responsible for maintaining information on the system and new additions. On average this division cleans 566,314 feet of sewer main and does root removal on 27,000 feet of main in summer months.
Storm-water System: The stormwater system is regulated by Phase 4 permit application. The City is developing a stormwater master plan that will control connections that discharge to the system.
The storm-water system consists of:
- 92 miles of storm pipe, which range from 8” to 90” pipes
- 28.2 miles of open storm drainage ditch
- 533 manholes
- 1,570 storm inlets
This section will be responsible for helping to implement the Phase II storm water permit program.
Helena is divided into 5 drainage basins:
- West Side; Last Chance;
- Davis; Bull Run
- the Airport
The crew cleans all 1,570 storm inlets yearly and performs hydraulic cleaning (jetting) of the pipes. Some 56,700 feet is annually inspected with a television camera to determine and inventory pipe conditions.
How to Report a Sewer Problem
The Wastewater Utility Division recognized the value of preventative maintenance to keep wastewater costs down, minimize the need for emergency repairs, and effectively maintain the wastewater system infrastructure. We suggest that if there is a sewer problem in your line, you contact the plumber or sewer contractor of your choice. If you feel that the problem could be in the City’s main, please call 457-8567 M-F 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. after hours please call HPD at 442-3233.
If there is a sewer problem in your line, we suggest you contact the plumber or sewer contractor of your choice. If you feel that the problem could be in the City's main, please call the numbers below.
WAYS TO PREVENT BACKUPS IN YOUR LINE AND IN THE MAIN
The property owner can do many things to prevent his line from backing up. Remember too, that the very same things can help to prevent backups in the main sewer line as well. If everyone would be careful about the ways in which they dispose of certain products, our systems would be a great deal more efficient, and fewer backups, cost us all less money, and prevent a lot of misery.
Cooking oil should be poured into a heat-resistant container and disposed of, after it cools off, in the garbage can, not the drain. Some people assume that washing grease down the drain with hot water is satisfactory. This grease goes down the drain, cools off, and solidifies either in the drain, the property owner's line, or in the main sewer. When this happens, the line constricts, and eventually clogs.
- Paper Products:
Paper towels, disposable (and cloth) diapers, and feminine products cause a great deal of problem in the property owner's line as well as in the main. These products do not deteriorate quickly, as does bathroom tissue. They become lodged in portions of the lines where there is an accumulation of any type of debris, and dam up the line, causing a sewer backup. These products should also be disposed of in the garbage can.
Shrubs and trees, seeking moisture, will make their way into sewer line cracks. These roots can do a lot of damage. They may start out small, getting into a small crack in the pipe; but as the tree or shrub continues to grow, so does the root. This obviously, after time goes on, causes your sewer line to break, which in turn allows debris to hang up in the line, thus causing a backup. One way to prevent roots from entering your line is to replace your line and tap with new plastic pipe. The other alternative is to be careful about planting greenery around your sewer line, or purchasing a product from your local plumber containing "copper sulfate", which helps to kill roots when you pour it down your drain. These products should be used with extreme caution, following the directions carefully. We suggest that you have the roots cut in your line semi-annually.
- Sewer Odors:
Another concern that property owners have is that they can smell sewer odors inside their house or building. There are two ways to prevent this from occurring. Under each drain in your plumbing system, there is a "P-trap". If there is water in this fitting, odors or H2S gas from the sewer cannot come through the drain from either the property owner's line or the City's main. Periodically check to make sure that unused floor drains, sinks etc. have water in the "P-trap". Another way to prevent sewer odor is to ensure that the vents, which are located on your roof, are free from bird nests, leaves, etc. When these vents are clear, the sewer odors will escape through these vents.
It has come to our attention that some people dispose of hypodermic needles into the sewer system. The present of these needles in the wastewater collection system presents special and possible deadly problems for the wastewater collection and wastewater treatment employees. Please DO NOT flush needles. The proper method of disposal is to re-cap the needle and put it into a "sharps container". (This could be any rigid plastic container such as a Clorox bottle….no milk bottles, please.) When it is full, tape the container securely, and call your local pharmacy for advice on proper disposal methods. PLEASE DO NOT FLUSH THEM OR THROW THEM INTO THE GARBAGE!
Sewer Main Connection/Service Line Installation
The sewer main connection and service line installation is the property owner's responsibility. Installation must be completed by a bonded and insured contractor. Contractor requirements and System Development fees are available at the City Building Division. Call the city Building Division at 447-8438 for inspection prior to backfill, providing 24 hr. minimum notice. Payment for connection and service line installation are the responsibility of the Property Owner. It is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain the service line from the sewer main connection to the structure including the sewer main tap.