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Wastewater Collection System

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Water or Sewer Emergencies: (805) 564-5413

The Wastewater Collection System (Sanitary Sewer System) is designed to carry wastewater from our toilets, sinks, and showers via private sewer lateral pipes to the City’s sewer mains. The City owns and maintains 257 miles of sewer mains which deliver wastewater to El Estero Water Resource Center.

Wastewater Collection System vs. Storm Drain System 
The storm drain system and the wastewater system are two different sets of pipes. The storm drains are the drains you see in the street gutters or are the pipes going into creeks or the ocean. These pipes are only for rain water. They are never used for wastewater. Wastewater goes into a different set of pipes called the Wastewater Collection System. These pipes go to the wastewater treatment plant where the wastewater is processed. Only wastewater, not storm water, goes to the wastewater treatment plant for treatment.

In fact, if water from storms gets into the sewer pipes it causes problems such as sewage overflows. This is why it is illegal to hook-up roof or yard drains to sewer pipes. The City’s Smoke Testing Program is designed to help identify and remove these types of connections. Rain water can also enter the sewer through pipe joints and spaces, also causing sewage to overflow through manholes. The Sewer Lateral Inspection Program requires property owners to repair or replace damaged private sewer lines to prevent overflows.

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Wastewater Collection System Condition Assessment

The City of Santa Barbara is responsible for 257 miles of Sanitary Sewer.  Currently the city has mains that date back from the late 1800’s to the present and ranging in size from 6 inch to 42 inch in diameter.  Although the mains from the 1800’s still function correctly, they are made of materials that may be considered substandard from today’s criteria.  The primary tool used to inspect the aging infrastructure is a  CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television) van.  Our Inspection staff is responsible for operating, maintaining and using the CCTV equipment to perform routine inspections using a national industry coding system called Pipeline Assessment Certification Program (PACP) from the National Association Sewer Service Companies (NASSCO). 

The City’s CCTV program and equipment is a vital tool for operating and maintaining the sanitary sewer system.  Currently, the City is seeking options for a new CCTV van, software and equipment to replace the outdated equipment from the 1990’s.

Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) Sewer Main Inspections:

Field crews inspect the sewer mains using a robotic camera and one of the industry’s PACP software to document defects observed while travelling through the pipe.  The most common defects observed during inspections are breaks, fractures, cracks, grease, roots, sags, offset joints and private sewer lateral connections.  The defects observed are coded using the PACP standard codes and stored into the IT Pipes CCTV database software which gives the sewer main a rating score for maintenance, structural and overall condition. 

The data collected from inspections is reviewed by the Wastewater Maintenance Planner/Scheduler for quality and is used to help decide future maintenance and repairs for the sewer main. Staff use this data to help ensure pipes are on the right cleaning schedule and CCTV inspection frequency. This inspection data also helps identify any defective sewer lateral connections, triggering a Sewer Lateral Inspection Program case. 

Where does data go and how does the City use the data? 

After the data is collected from field crews, it is then populated in both the City’s IT Pipes server and CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System). The PACP structural score that is inputted into the CMMS database, is the driver on how frequently we inspect the main in the future, using our built-in automated preventative maintenance tool.

Respond to and investigate blockages or spills:

In the event of a blockage or SSO (Sanitary Sewer Overflow), the City follows up with a visual inspection using CCTV equipment.  This allows us to confirm the cause of the issue, but also determine what our next step will be so we can prevent a future blockage or SSO at that same location.  Follow up steps would include either maintenance, repair, rehabilitate or replacement of the affected main.

Services:

While a local plumber can locate your connection to the city sewer main from your lateral, The City’s CCTV program also offers a service for locating your sewer lateral connection, or wye, for both residential and commercial buildings.  To request city staff to locate your property’s sewer lateral connection, please contact the Wastewater CCTV Planner/Scheduler to set a time.  Current fiscal year fees for locating service lines can be found on the City’s Fee Resolution and staff typically estimate an hour to dye test and confirm the lateral connection location.