In 1995 the Wastewater Collection Department was created by City Council in response to a need to work toward fulfilling EPA “dry weather bypass” mandates. These mandates require the sanitary sewer system to flow adequately so as not to spill into creeks and rivers during normal usage, when excessive rain is not interfering with the system. In addition, there was a need to lessen sewer backup problems, created by community expansion and flow restrictions such as tree roots. The Jet Vac Combo truck, pictured here, has the capacity to clean out restrictions in large sewer lines so that wastewater can flow more efficiently.
Within the sanitary sewer system are the wastewater treatment plant (located on U. S. 127 north of Van Wert), a pump station, and eight smaller lift stations. The pump station has a pressurized 24-inch pipe line leading to the plant. A gravity fed 24-inch line from northwest Van Wert and a 33-inch line draining the southern portion of the city feed the pump station. In 2007, a 24-inch gravity-fed line was installed under North Washington Street which drains sewage from the northeast section of town, portions of the downtown, and North Jefferson Street to the waste water treatment plant. The treatment plant, pump station, and many of the major supply lines are twenty first century capital improvements.
The earliest portions of the current sanitary sewer system consisted of pipes placed in creek beds and then covered over. One such former creek ran near parts of East Crawford Street. A second creek once crossed South Avenue and State Street, then flowed near the present intersection of Southway and Airport Streets.
Van Wert, like most older communities, has both rain water and sewage water draining into the sanitary sewer system. Antiquated systems such as these, and even those developed years later, result in untreated sewer spillage directly into waterways during heavy rains. When sanitary sewer water is at a very high pressure, it forces sewage out through overflow pipes. Later systems drain storm water into a separate pipe line system rather than the sanitary sewer system.
In the 1970s, federal funding provided for a number of storm sewer mains to be placed in various parts of Van Wert. Both Web pages describe additional efforts being made toward treating our community’s waste water properly.
The Wastewater Collection Department has six employees. The department head is responsible for purchasing supplies, budgeting, and operating the backhoe in limited situations. Supervision and daily training of recently hired employees are also duties of the department head.
Members of the sewer maintenance team use a Jet Vac trailer to clean out a small sewer lines. This team’s duties include rebuilding manholes, responding to citizen complaints, and maintaining sewer lines. The maintenance program includes the routine cleaning of sewer lines in one council ward each year. This plan results in the entire city being covered once every four years.
As in most communities, old pipes sometimes collapse because of ground pressure. Three members of the department are assigned to the “dig crew,” which locates and repairs blockage problems. Members of this crew can send a robot containing a camera out from the camera truck, as pictured on the equipment page. The robot travels down the sewer pipe to the blockage within the pipe. The robot sends out a sonar signal, and a member of the dig crew walks on the surface above the pipe line using a sonar listening device. This technique can pinpoint the location and depth of the robot, thus finding the location of the blockage. The backhoe operator, who is the team leader, then begins the dig.
The Waste Water Collection Department has been involved in a number of capital improvement project within the city.
Department personnel participated in a multi-department team that separated the vast majority of the storm water catch basins along the streets of the northeast portion of Van Wert. The majority of the storm sewer pipe and concrete street catch basins in this First Ward project were paid for by a federal block grant and a “chip grant” which provided for neighborhoods of lesser financial means. First Ward is one of four council districts within the City of Van Wert.
Pictured is trackhoe that the city rented to place up to 60-inch storm water pipe within Vision Industrial Park. Waste Water Collection, and Water Distribution department employees worked together to place 1089 feet of 48-inch storm drainpipe along Production drive, and 1518 feet of 30 – 42 inch pipe further down on the same drive. Industry choosing to locate here, now has the ability to drain large parking lots, as the result of the work from these Departments. Waste Water Personnel also leveled much of the soil along Production Drive after other construction was completed.
One year prior to the Production Drive project, these departments placed numerous storm sewers in other areas of Vision Park.
Department personnel assisted in a deeply placed 15-inch line running east and west line within the wastewater treatment plant. Personnel also assisted in a deeply placed sanitary sewer line running along South Washington Street from Fox Road up to the front of the water treatment plant.