PAWSD to conduct on-site inspections

Certain Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) wastewater customers will receive a letter in the next few weeks, asking for property access to inspect sump pumps. On-site inspections are voluntary and district personnel will not enter a residence or business without owner permission.

As part of continuing efforts to lessen operating costs and capital expenses, PAWSD is analyzing the use of sump pumps within the district, in hope of finding and eliminating improper connections to sewer lines. The purging of inappropriate usage not only decreases the cost of wastewater treatment, it reduces related customer fees and monthly service charges.

Concerns mount as ground water — or clear water — infiltrates a water disposal system. Infiltration may occur through breaks or cracks in sewer collection main lines, or when a sump pump diverts runoff or crawlspace water directly into the system. In fact, estimates suggest a single sump pump can contribute 25 times the average residential flow to a system.

According to PAWSD, increased clear-water flows overwhelm main line capacity and lifespan, thereby requiring costly capital upgrades or expansion that might otherwise be unnecessary for many years. Needless flow increases also deluge treatment plants and lift stations, ultimately adding to their overall operating costs.

PAWSD technicians examined several district properties in 2008, with hope of completing the systemwide audit over the next few months. An inspection typically lasts 15 minutes and involves a visual crawlspace evaluation.

Where sump pumps are found, technicians will determine their points of discharge. Owners with pumps discharging ground water directly into the sewer system will be asked to redirect them to acceptable drainages as soon as possible. To verify proper mitigation, technicians will schedule follow-up inspections.

Wastewater customers with questions or concerns may contact the PAWSD office by calling 970-731-2691 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Call the same number (during the same hours) to schedule an inspection any day of the week, weekends included.

chuck@pagosasun.com