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Severe Weather Tips

Sewer-Related Suggestions for Severe Weather

 

Please read the following information for recommendations before, during and after major storms and flooding. BCSS, like other wastewater utilities, is not responsible for pump systems and sewer service lines on private property. We suggest you use your best judgment in maintaining your system.
 

 

Before the Storm
  • Read all of the suggestions below
  • Stock up on water to use for drinking, hand washing, bathing, etc. in case something happens to your incoming water source. Preparing handwashing buckets can help to limit wastewater down the drains if the power is out for awhile.
  • If you have a visible cleanout on your property, make sure that the lid is completely sealed and not broken. If there is any crack or opening, have it repaired so that rain water does not get into the pipes and overwhelm the sewer system. Replacement parts should be easily found at a hardware store or online. This video provides instructions to fix a cleanout yourself, or you could hire a plumber or handyman. You could put a covering, like an upside down bucket, over the cleanout area until it is completed to prevent rainwater infiltration in the meantime.
  • Prior to power going out, if you have a grinder pump with a panel box that has a PUSH TO RUN button, press that button to empty the basin and allow for capacity to hold some wastewater.
  • If you own a grinder pump and your property is predicted to flood where the pump is, turn off switch for grinder pump in the main breaker box or in pump’s panel box prior to the heavy rain. Be sure to make a note to turn it back on once flooding subsides.
  • As of January 4, 2021, all grinder pumps and lift stations installed on the Baldwin County Sewer Service (BCSS) sewer system include a generator transfer switch in the pumps’ panel boxes
  • The specifications for a pump generator transfer switch is 30 amp 220 Volt 4 wire.
  • BCSS is now transfer switches to existing customers with grinder pumps who want one for $290, which can be added to the next monthly bills or split up into monthly installments for up to six months with no interest. Since the BCSS electricians’ schedules are already full, customers will need to hire an electrician to install transfer switches for existing pumps. Please contact us if you are interested in purchasing one from us.
  • Generator requirements for residential grinder pumps: 6500 watts minimum, 220 V 4 wire. Additional details:
  • The 240 Volt generator must be rated at 6500watt continuous/ 8125 watt starting minimum.
    • Never use an undersized generator, as it will likely cause damage to the generator, pump and panel.
    • When the grinder pump starts, the pump needs approximately 8000 watts for less than a second at 240 Volts.
    • Once the grinder pump motor is running, the wattage will drop to between 1800 and 3600 watts depending on the line pressure in the system.

During & After the Storm

  • BCSS will not be pumping down grinder pumps on private property, and we won’t be pumping septic tanks for at least 3 days after a hurricane.
  • When power is out in your area, limit flushing toilets and running water in faucets as much as possible. Even if you don’t have a grinder pump, this will help to prevent overloading nearby lift stations that pump wastewater to the WWTPs.
    • When conditions are safe for our employees, crews will work as quickly as possible to resolve issues with the sewer system that the hurricane has caused. During power outages, we utilize bypass pumps, back-up generators, pump trucks and all equipment and employees available to sustain the main sewer system throughout Baldwin County until permanent power is restored.
  • BCSS cannot service any grinder pumps that do not have power to them.
  • If your power is out for a long period of time and you have a grinder pump, the pump does not work without power (unless it’s connected to a suitable generator). Therefore, if you stay in the home/ building during this time, you should greatly limit water usage. There could be some capacity in the pump’s basin before it overflows from the vent on top of the lid, which is typically what happens if you continue to use water when the power is not working. A standard pump basin holds approximately 100 gallons of wastewater, depending on what type you have, and you can remove the pump’s lid when the power goes out to see the level in your basin.
  • If the power is out on your street for several hours or longer and you have a grinder pump, we suggest to turn off the pump’s breaker switch and wait 30 minutes after permanent power returns to turn the breaker switch on.
  • After your power and pump are back on, the pump should automatically work as usual. If for some reason the alarm is on longer than 15 minutes, you can try to troubleshoot or contact us or a plumber to schedule a repair. If the alarm goes off and stays off after 15 minutes, it was just resetting itself.
  • If you turned your pump’s breaker switch off because of possible flooding, turn it back on once flooding subsides.
  • Please call (251) 971-3022 to report sewer spills you see on our sewer system or to make a request.
  • If a lift station does not have power and the properties send wastewater to that lift station are using water, the wastewater should not backup into the home/ building using water. If it does, there could be other issues, and we suggest that you consult with a plumber.
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