The City of St. Charles is conducting testing of its sanitary sewer system. The testing identifies faulty lines or connections where water runoff from rain or snow melts may enter the system or where sewer gases may escape. The testing is required by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and includes two phases: Manhole Inspection and Smoke Testing. The testing will take place in southwest area of the City. See below for a map of the area being tested or click to enlarge the map. All affected residences and businesses have been notified. Signs will also be posted in the neighborhoods being tested.
Sanitary Sewer Testing Information and Schedule
Manhole Inspections – Aug. 23, 2017 to Sept. 8, 2017
Manholes will be inspected with 360-degree imaging. There will be no interruption to sanitary sewer service during the test. Residents may notice the contractor’s vans parked outside and workers lowering imaging equipment into manholes. Midwest Water Group Inc./RMS Utility Services of McHenry, Ill., is the City’s contractor for this project.
Smoke Testing – Week of Sept. 6, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2017
Smoke testing pushes air combined with liquid smoke into sewer lines to disclose the location of leaks and faulty connections to the sanitary sewer system. The smoke is non-toxic, and safe for humans and pets. It is similar to the special effects smoke used in concerts and haunted houses. During the test, smoke may be seen coming from vent stacks on the roof and out of the ground.
Smoke will not enter homes or buildings unless the plumbing is defective or drain traps are dry. The smoke has no odor, is non-toxic, non-staining, does not create a fire hazard, and will dissipate in a few minutes. Pouring water into any floor drains and into any unused sinks prior to the test will seal the drain traps so smoke will not enter the building through the drains.
The City has contracted with EEI, Engineering of Sugar Grove, Ill., and Burns & Midwest Water Group Inc./RMS Utility Services of McHenry, Ill., to perform the smoke testing.
“We appreciate everyone’s cooperation during the sanitary sewer assessment process,” said Environmental Services Manager Tim Wilson. “While we have notified businesses and residents in the neighborhoods to be tested, we ask residents to help us get the word out, especially to elderly neighbors. We want to be sure people are aware of the testing so they are not alarmed by the smoke.”
Why Test the Sanitary Sewer Lines for Faults?
- Reduce Inconvenient Sanitary Sewer Backups Due to Rain or Snow Melts - When a significant amount of ground water from rain or snow melts flows into the sanitary sewer system, it can overwhelm system capacity and cause sanitary sewer backups.
- Eliminate Unnecessary Wastewater Treatment - All water in sanitary sewer lines is treated at the City’s wastewater plant. Significant amounts of groundwater flowing into the sanitary sewer mains can lead to millions of gallons of water being treated unnecessarily--and there are costs to treat that water.
- Identify Location of Sanitary Sewer Gas Leaks – Faulty sanitary sewer mains or connections could allow sewer gases to escape.
For any questions regarding the manhole inspections or smoke testing, call St. Charles Public Works Department at 630.377.4405. More information, including frequently asked questions, is on the Sanitary Sewer System Testing web page.