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posted: 7/12/2014 8:00 AM

Naperville efforts continue to prevent sewer backups

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As one project to prevent extra water from sneaking into the sewer system wraps up in Naperville, a couple more initiatives are soon to begin.

One involves fixing manhole covers so groundwater can't leak into sanitary sewers, while the other will offer reimbursements to homeowners who fix a type of sump pump connection that's illegal under Naperville's building code.

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Early this month, contractors completed a $2 million project to line 57,000 feet of sanitary sewer mains in the Cress Creek area near Ogden Avenue and Mill Street. Sewer lining helps prevent groundwater from leaking into pipes and contributing to overflows or basement backups, Jim Holzapfel, public utilities director for water, said.

"It's all part of a connected system," Holzapfel said. "If one part of the system leaks, it takes away from capacity elsewhere."

Next up is a $477,821 contract the city council will consider Tuesday to rehabilitate about 175 manhole covers in Cress Creek. This is a continuation of the previous sewer lining project, during which 540 manhole covers were improved to fix leaks, Holzapfel said.

Some sewer work in Cress Creek, which is the state's first golf course subdivision and was built on a swampy area, was expedited after 338 homes in the area experienced sewer backups during flooding in April 2013. The city also allocated an extra $785,000 for use in a program that refunds homeowners 75 percent of the money they spend installing backflow prevention devices to stop sewer contents from ending up in their basements.

Holzapfel said 80 homeowners participated in the program, so the city spent only $281,963 of available funds.

Now, Naperville is expanding that reimbursement program to encourage residents to disconnect sump pump lines that are illegally connected to sanitary sewers.

When water being pumped by a sump pump is added to sanitary sewer pipes, it easily can overwhelm the system. Holzapfel said output from only eight sump pumps can exceed the capacity of a typical eight-inch sanitary sewer pipe. So instead of punishing people whose connections violate the code, the city wants to give them incentives to make things right.

Residents whose homes were built in the 1960s or '70s are more likely to have sump pumps connected to sanitary sewer lines. Holzapfel said those who are unsure where their sump pump discharge lines are connected are encouraged to call the water utility at (630) 420-6137.

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