Department of Public Works - Utilities
Sewer Line Maintenance
DPW is committed to providing environmentally sensitive wastewater treatment and to sharing in the responsibility to protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries now and for future generations. In conjunction with this mission, DPW Utility Operations Bureau performs continual evaluation and rehabilitation of the public wastewater system. A comprehensive program of on-going investigation and preventative maintenance maximizes system performance and is more economical than expensive and inconvenient emergency repairs.
DPW’s Bureau of Utility Operations of the Wastewater Division, maintains and operates the public sewer system in Anne Arundel County. The system consists of eight (8) treatment plants, 241 pump stations and over 1,200 miles of pipes. The Wastewater Division has a very proactive preventative maintenance program to keep our wastewater system functioning properly and to accomplish DPW’s mission to protect the environment - especially the Chesapeake Bay.
The Collection System
Wastewater discharged from a home or business enters the system through service lines twelve inches or smaller. These smaller pipes are known as “collectors”. The wastewater then travels to larger “trunk” lines consisting of pipes twelve inches or larger. Finally, the wastewater reaches the largest lines, the “interceptors” which vary in size from 18- to 60-inches. These interceptors carry the wastewater directly to the treatment plants.
Pump stations are an integral part of the collection and conveyance system. Collection systems are built to utilize the natural flow of gravity when possible. When wastewater cannot travel through the lines by gravity, pumps are used to force the wastewater through the force mains until it can again be transported by gravity flow.
DPW operates eight (8) wastewater treatment plants. The Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) has recognized all six of the major plants operated by DPW, Bureau of Utility Operations for their anti-pollution efforts.
In 1999 all six plants were honored with Gold Award which recognizes plants that have achieved 100 percent compliance with their national pollutant discharge permit for their entire calendar year. Treatment plants receiving the honor include: Cox Creek, Patuxent, Maryland City, Broadwater, Broadneck and Annapolis. In 2000 five of the six plants won gold - only Broadneck missed the gold but won a silver. The only other plant operated by the county was the Mayo plant which was too small to be considered for recognition.
Common Causes of System Problems
Despite proactive efforts to maintain the system, operational complications may sometimes occur. Some of the common causes of system problems include:
- Using the drain to dispose of items such as grease, paper, garbage or household hazardous waste
- Vandalizing the system by putting foreign or incompatible materials in the system or down manholes
- Blocking of the system by tree or shrub roots seeking water and entering the system
In order to maintain our wastewater system and to keep it functioning properly, our Wastewater Division utilizes the following preventative maintenance procedures:
Maintenance crews periodically check manholes, frames and covers to look out for cracks, breaks or missing parts, which may prevent them from maintaining airtight integrity. Replacement and maintenance is scheduled as necessary.
TV of Lines
Sewer lines are inspected internally with a special closed circuit TV camera that is lowered into a manhole and pulled through the line. Testing and repair equipment used in conjunction with the camera will determine if there are areas of weakness in the joints and pipes and look for leakage. If the line is in poor condition and cannot be repaired it will then be scheduled for replacement.
By blowing smoke into a sewer line, crews can determine areas of breaks, improper connections and other system problems which than can be scheduled for repair or replacement. This procedure sometimes identifies problems on the property owner’s side of the system. In these cases, the property owners are notified and advised to make the appropriate repairs.
Chemical Root Treatment
In some areas, workers may find it helpful to use a foaming chemical root treatment. This foam is pumped into selected sewer mains to kill existing roots and to inhibit their regrowth.
Jet Washing and Root Cutting
Sewer lines are often rodded to remove roots or other material then cleaned with high-pressure water by using a combination jet vacuum system.
Sewer Main Relining Program
Some sewer lines can be rehabilitated by installing PVC plastic liners. The lining extends structural life of the pipes, inhibits root growth and reduces ground water leakage into the sewer pipes.
Sewer Service Replacement
Sewer “services”, which are the lines that run between the property line and the main line are periodically checked for structural and operational soundness. If it is found to be in poor condition, the pipes are replaced.
Although our Wastewater Division utilizes a number of methods to evaluate and maintain our sewer system, there may be a time when you could experience a stoppage. If this occurs, be sure to call our 24-hour Emergency Services staff at (410) 222-8400 or (410) 451-4118 (South County). If the sewer cleanout is accessible, an emergency crew will be dispatched to assess the situation. If the blockage is in the county line, the crew will break the blockage to end the back-up. If there is no cleanout, or if the cleanout cannot be located, you will need to call a plumber.
Address: 7409 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd., Glen Burnie MD 21062