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Switch sump pumps to summer mode

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An excessive amount of groundwater required the town to divert sewage into the Rainy River and relieve stress on its sewage treatment system on Friday.

And while the steady rain, and the fact the ground is still frozen, was to blame, the fact some residents still haven’t switched their sump pumps to “summer mode” exacerbated the problem, Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown said Tuesday.

“We had a bypass there on Friday. It started at roughly 9 a.m. and ended at 9:30 p.m., so roughly 12 hours,” he noted.

“We discharged 1,370 cubic metres of waste water,” he said. “It didn’t go through the treatment process, but we did add chlorine to disinfect it.

“We know we’re getting groundwater into our system from sumps [and] I want people to make a conscious effort to switch over to summer mode,” Brown stressed.

“We don’t want to flood basements but if we keep putting the groundwater into the sanitary, it’s taking capacity out for sewage,” he said. “It’s costing energy and taxing the system.”

Brown noted the town has a bylaw in place stating residents must have their sump pumps in “summer mode” right now in order to prevent rainwater from being discharged into the sanitary sewer system.

This means having your sump pump outputting water four feet from your house and onto the road, where it goes to the curb, into the catch basins, and eventually into the river.

“It doesn’t need to be treated—it’s clean groundwater,” Brown explained.

Not putting your sump pump into summer mode means you’re continuing to put water into the sanitary sewer system, as opposed to outdoors and into the storm sewer system, increasing the burden on the sewage treatment plant.

In one way or another, Brown said, all residents are affected by the fact some people are responsible for putting that extra water into the system.

If the area sees any rainfall for an extended period of time this spring, people will see flooded basements, he warned, adding people should know having to treat the extra water affects sewer and water rates, too.

The less water the town has to treat, the less cost there is.

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