Collection System Improvements

The Cities of Burlington and Graham are always working to improve their Sanitary Sewer Collection Systems.

The Sanitary Sewer Collection System transports wastewater from homes, businesses and industries to the City’s mainlines which are typically within street right of ways or easements.   These main sewer lines then transport the wastewater to a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) where the wastewater is cleansed before being discharged into a nearby surface water.  The Collection Systems are not intended to carry stormwater but only wastewater to the treatment plants. Improvements to the collection system are usually centered on preventing stormwater from entering these lines and can include sanitary sewer lining, sewer rehabilitation, and scheduled inspections. These practices are used as pollution controls to prevent overwhelming the Collection Systems and reducing untreated sanitary sewer discharges that pollute surface and ground waters. To achieve our goals of improving the collections system, the Cities of Burlington and Graham conduct regular inspections, and scheduled maintenance, as well as targeted public education about the operation of the collection system, and capital construction projects and repairs. The Cities of Burlington and Graham are the primary owners and operators of sanitary sewer collection systems where these pollution controls will be implemented as NCDOT does not own or operate any wastewater collection systems within the watershed.

Sanitary Sewer Cleaning

Older sanitary sewer lines may have significantly high rates of infiltration and inflow (I&I), which is water entering the sewer line, and exfiltration, which is untreated sewage leaching into the soil and groundwater. Excessive inflow & infiltration can cause the volume of the wastewater transported to exceed the design capacity of the system, producing sewer overflows. Untreated wastewater may contain water quality pollutants including pathogens, nutrients, oil and grease, metals, and pharmaceuticals. Our collection system improvements help prevent inflow and infiltration as well as exfiltration, which will reduce wastewater pollution.

The Cities of Burlington and Graham have been managing their wastewater collection systems to permit-required conditions since 2002. The Cities are both audited by NCDEQ staff annually for compliance and both programs are compliant with their permit conditions. These pollution controls focus on the reduction of incidental discharges of untreated wastewater from the collection system within the Little Alamance Creek watershed, thereby reducing the contribution of a wide range of typical wastewater pollutants to the MS4 and waters of the state. The Cities of Graham and Burlington have spent millions in the last 10 years to rehabilitate and improve their wastewater collection systems. Both Cities plan to continue investing in their collection systems in an effort to reduce pollution from wastewater.

Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) can buildup in the wastewater system and cause sewer backups.  The best way to prevent these blockages is to remove them at the source, your kitchen sink.  Many people do not realize the challenge dumping fats, oils, and grease down the drain cause to wastewater collection system so both cities have established FOG programs to inform the citizens of these challenges.

Collection System Improvements Progress

  • Pollution Prevention and Reduction

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