Sewer System Overview Video
You don’t tend to think much about the City’s sewer system – until something goes wrong. Except, of course, for the Public Works Sewer Crew who work hard to maintain and repair the sewer system. Learn more about the important, too often unnoticed, work they do.
Turning On and Off Service
Wastewater (also known as sewage) service is turned on and off when water service is started or discontinued. Use the following form to stop or start service:
Utility Bill Payment and Rates
Wastewater / Sewer collection utility bill payment information and current rates are available as part of the combined utility bill payment process.
Reporting a Plugged Drain
To report a plugged or backed up drain, contact Public Works Operations office. When a plugged or backed up drain complaint is filed with the Public Works Department crews are dispatched to inspect the main wastewater line in the street for any blockages. If the wastewater is flowing freely in the main upstream and downstream of the location of the plugged or backed up drain, it can be assumed to be the side service and the property owner is contacted to make the repair.
Due to the nature of most wastewater problems, the Wastewater Collection Section responds to customer complaints and inquiries in a timely and efficient manner. The most common requests are to investigate for backups, odors, rat infiltration, missing manhole covers and sinkholes. All requests are logged and investigated. Resolution of some requests may involve collecting samples, physical and/or video inspection, dye testing, and consulting with the customer. During routine maintenance activities (smoke testing, video inspection, etc.) owners are made aware of any potential deficiencies (e.g., roots, holes) in their side service.
Wastewater Side Services
There are currently over 19,000 wastewater side services inside and outside the City limits. The side service from the wastewater main to the property line, including the connection to the wastewater main, is owned and maintained by the property owner. The City, by ordinance, is not responsible for the operation, maintenance or repair of wastewater side services. (BMC 15.12.060).
Infiltration and Inflow Investigation
Special testing with smoke generating devices is used to locate cross-connections between stormwater and wastewater systems. Dye testing is another method used to evaluate infiltration, inflow and exfiltration and to confirm wastewater flow direction.
Public Works is responsible for installing, inspecting, cleaning and repairing approximately 300 miles of wastewater mains inside and outside the city limits of Bellingham. The wastewater collection system also includes manholes and clean-outs that are routinely inspected and maintained to ensure adequate access to the wastewater mains for routine and emergency cleaning and inspection. The following objectives drive how this service is provided:
- Prevent public health hazards
- Protect water quality of creeks, lakes and Bellingham Bay
- Maintain good public relations
- Maintain maximum capacities and extend useful life
- Prevent and minimize damage claims due to system backups
- Protect the collection system from improper use
- Convey wastewater to treatment plant with a minimum of infiltration