General Sewer System Information
Prior to 1997, all of Roulette’s sewage was treated by in-ground leach beds and septic tanks. PA DEP forced the Township to install a municipal Sewer System within the more densely populated portion of Town. Phase one of this project was completed in 1997 and is all gravity fed. Phase Two saw the installation of three “Low Pressure” sewage transmission systems and was completed in 2001. This part of the system utilizes “Grinder Pumps” to convey sewage to the Phase One gravity system. In 2013, the Roulette Township Treatment System treated 12,902,110 gallons of wastewater or a little over a million gallons of water each month!
How it Works
Waste water leaves your home or business via piping in the building that is connected to the main sewer system. The wastewater travels through the system’s main piping (Collection System) to either a “Lift Station” where it is pumped to the gravity system, or directly to the gravity system itself. The gravity system is piped to the Treatment Plant. Roulette has four Lift Stations. One on Pomeroy Avenue, one on Drabert Lane, one on Bowhunter Dr., and finally the Main Lift Station that pumps all of the collected wastewater to the Treatment System.
The Treatment System itself, where all the magic happens, is known as an Extended Aeration Treatment system. It’s a bit complicated to explain but the best way I’ve found to explain it is to use the idea of an aquarium.
Essentially, that’s what it is, very large aquarium. The differences between a home Aquarium and our Treatment System are very few. In a home aquarium, you have fish. Your fish have certain needs in order to live and thrive. They need food, oxygen, suitable water temperature, pH, good water conditions, and don’t like to be over-crowded. Occasionally you may need to clean the Tank to remove other “Fish Wastes.” So, in your home aquarium, you have an air pump, an aeration stone, a heater, water filter, Fish Food, a pH Testing Kit, and perhaps chemicals to adjust the pH. Occasionally, you may change out a portion of their water or completely remove the fish, clean the Tank, and start fresh.
The same is true of our Treatment system. The biggest difference is that the “fish” are microscopic. The Treatment system uses various types of bacteria and microbes to remove wastes from the water. The bacteria have pretty much the same requirements as aquarium fish. They need food. They eat the “food” provided by the residents of the Township through the collection system. They need Oxygen. The Sewer has air pumps and aerators that provide the Oxygen. The pH of their water needs to stay within a certain range. Wastes need to be removed from their water to keep them healthy. A portion of the bacteria and microbes need to be removed due to “overcrowding.” You see? It’s all pretty much the same.
There are some minor differences but overall this is how it works…
Food enters the system and goes to Mixing Tanks where the bacteria and microbes live. These tanks provide the food and oxygen that the bacteria need. The bacteria collect “food” on their outer cell walls which are how they eat. This also makes them heavier. The bacteria also clump together in “flocks” making them heavier yet. When the Aeration system is running, the tanks are very turbulent so, the bacteria and microbes can’t settle to the bottom. But they continue to eat, create their own waste products, and even reproduce. From the Aerated portion of the system, the bacteria and their collected food enter a “Clarifier”. All the Clarifier is, is a place where there is very little water current. This allows the bacteria, food, and wastes to settle to the bottom leaving clear water above. That clear water exits the main treatment system, and goes to a disinfection tank where it is treated with chlorine to kill any bacteria that may be present. It then travels to a Dechlorination Tank where the residual chlorine is removed to protect aquatic life in the AlleganyRiver. Finally, the clean, disinfected water is discharged to the river.
But what about all of that waste stuff and the extra bacteria and microbes created by reproduction?
A small portion of the bacteria, microbes, and wastes are returned to the Aeration Tanks. The rest is sent to other tanks called Digesters. Digesters just simply allow the bacteria to eat even more food, reducing the amount of final wastes. Once no more waste can be processed in the Digesters, the contents of the Digesters are pumped out to “Drying Beds” where the waste sludge is dried, placed into a commercial roll-off (Dumpster), and then finally disposed of at a landfill.
This part of the process is like keeping your Aquarium clean, keeping the water quality suitable, and keeping it from being overcrowded with fish.
Why do I have one? Well, it comes down to one of two scenarios. Either your location is below the rest of the gravity system and your wastewater needs to be pumped up to it, or it was more cost effective to install a “Low Pressure” collection system to service your area.
How it works
Wastewater leaves your home or business via the piping in your home and enters the Grinder Pit. In the Grinder Pit there are float switches that tell the pump when to come on and shut off. When the pump comes on, wastes enter the pump through a “Grinder.” The grinder is a small disk with cutters on it that chop up the waste and then the pump sends that waste to the main collection system. The main reason for the need to chop up the waste is that the wastewater goes through piping that is smaller than normal gravity systems. This prevents plugging of the smaller piping.
Every Grinder Pump location is an in ground installation that connects your home plumbing to the rest of the waste collection system. The “Grinder Pits” as we call them are green, have a bolted down cover and a grey control boxes with red warning lights on them. If you see that this light is on, your Grinder Pump is malfunctioning and needs attention by Township personnel.
So, what can I, as a home or business owner, do to help prevent the Grinder Pump from malfunctioning. Basically, it’s as simple as this. Nothing should enter the Grinder Pumps other than human bodily wastes, Toilet Paper, Laundry water, shower/bath water, and dish water. That’s it. Just about anything else will cause the cutters to jam, possibly costing you a repair charge.
I’ll mention some particulars that have caused problems…
- Feminine Products
- Cooking Greases and Oils (these cause the floats to stick sometimes)
- Children’s Toys
- Rags of any kind
- Baby Wipes
- Swiffer type wipes
- Reinforced Paper Towels
Presented below is information to inform you of Roulette Township’s Grinder Pump policy based on Roulette Township Sewer Ordinances.
The Township’s Sewer Ordinances, 96-2 and 96-3 adopted in 1996, state that property owners who have grinder pump installations on their properties are responsible for the care, maintenance, repair, and or replacement of their Grinder Pump. These Ordinances are available for review in the Township Office. This document is to clarify the portion of these Ordinances concerning Grinder Pumps.
The first set of Grinder Pumps installed in the “Phase II” sewer installation that occurred in 2004 were provided at no cost to the property owners but became the property of the property owner. After that initial installation, all responsibility for the Grinder Pumps lied with the property owner based on the Ordinances. In other words, if you have a Grinder Pump on your property, you own it. It should be noted that language concerning Grinder Pumps within the Ordinances was adopted long before the Grinder Pumps were installed.
In the beginning of 2006, a letter was presented by the new Waste Treatment Operator to the Supervisors to be sent out with more information relating to what is not allowed in the Sewer Waste Stream and wording regarding Grinder Pumps. The Supervisors approved this letter to be sent out. It appears at that time the former Sewer Operator decided to take Grinder Pump repair and replacement into his own hands.
The Operator’s involvement gave the impression that the Township owned and maintained these Grinder Pumps. This is not the case based on the Ordinances and never was. It was incorrect and improper for the former Operator to assert this control. The former Operator also requested institution of the $45.00 per hour repair fee in the above mentioned letter. There is no problem with this, however, when it came to rented properties, the Tenant was being charged the fee instead of the Landlord or Lessee. This was also incorrect practice based on the Ordinances.
With that said Roulette Township personnel will no longer respond to Grinder Pump repairs or perform replacements without an express request by the Property Owner or Property Lessee. Landlords or Lessees will be charged for repair services, not Tenants, if repairs are performed by Township personnel.
The Township DOES NOT need to be involved in any aspect of your property’s Grinder Pump other than knowing that it is malfunctioning.
What does this mean to you as the property owner?
First, and foremost, even though it is your Grinder Pump, you must inform the Township you are having an issue with it. Tenants should inform their Landlords of a Grinder Pump issue as well as the Township. The Landlord will make a decision as to the repair of the Grinder Pump. You should also inform the Township of how you intend, or prefer, to correct the issue. Various options available to you are given below. Once corrected, again inform the Township so they may send someone out to verify the system is working properly.
The issue is to be corrected within a 24 hour time period. If the issue is not resolved within this time frame, water service may be discontinued to the affected residence until the issue is resolved to prevent health related hazards. This is a PA DEP requirement.
In the event that you have a Grinder Pump failure, curtail or stop all water usage until the issue is resolved!
If you continue to use water as usual, you will fill up and possibly overflow the system. This will result in longer repair times and cleanup expenses. It is also a violation of State and Federal Health law to allow raw Sewage to flow on the ground untreated.
If your Grinder Pump develops a problem, you have various options available to you to remedy the situation…
- You may attempt to service the Grinder Pump yourself.
- You may hire a contractor to service the Grinder Pump.
- You may contact the Township to service the pump. The Township currently charges $45.00 per hour for this service and is subject to change.
Options are available to you from the Township in a Grinder Pump failure…
The Roulette Township Supervisors realize that Grinder Pumps are expensive and not easily procured in this area so, they have come up with some options for your use if necessary.
In the event it is determined your Grinder Pump needs replacement…
There are only two brands and models of Grinder Pump approved for use on the system. They are…
- Barnes Part Number 115328NC - $2634.00 each
- Liberty Pump Model LSGX202M with Liberty Model G90 90 degree Elbow adapters. $2160.00 each (Preferred replacement)
- Rebuilt Barnes Grinder Pumps - $500.00 each
These prices are, of course, subject to change.
The Barnes pumps are the ones originally installed on the system. Liberty Grinder Pumps are a better product, slightly more economical, and expected to be more trouble free. New Liberty Pumps come with a 3 year warranty. They are however, a tight fit in the grinder pits.
The Township will keep rebuilt Barnes Pumps and New Liberty Pumps on hand for purchase. Rebuilt Barnes Grinder Pumps will also be available for rent from the Township for property owners who choose to order a new pump themselves or send one out for rebuild. This allows the property owner to resolve his/her Grinder Pump issue in a timely manner and not have to wait for delivery of a pump.
Note: Roulette Township will not purchase or keep on hand, any new Barnes pumps. If you prefer a brand new Barnes pump, you must purchase it yourself from an outside supplier. The Township has found this brand and model of pump to be troublesome.
Township Repair Services
You may choose to have Township personnel take care of your issue. At your request, Township personnel will come to your property, diagnose the problem, and make repairs as necessary. Any required parts and materials will be charged to you along with a $45.00 per hour labor fee (subject to change). In the event your Grinder Pump has been determined to require replacement, you will have the choice of purchasing a new Liberty Grinder Pump or rebuilt Barnes Grinder Pump.
In choosing a rebuilt Barnes Pump, Township personnel will install a previously rebuilt pump. This pump will become your property. Your pump will become the property of the Township, be sent out for rebuild, and kept as a replacement for the one installed at the time of service.
Also note that there is a 1 year warranty for replaced parts only associated with rebuilt Barnes Grinder Pumps. Even though they have been thoroughly gone over by Westburgh Electric, there are possibilities that their service life after rebuild may not be ideal.
If it is determined that the power supply to the pump is at issue, Township personnel will inform you of the problem and refer you to the Power Company or Electrical Contractor of your choice. Upon notification of the correction of the electrical issue, Township personnel will return and test the Grinder Pump for proper operation. If the pump is still not operating properly, diagnostics and repair will continue until the issue is resolved.
The Township Repair option allows you to either pay all related charges as they occur in one lump sum, or work out a payment agreement with the Township Secretary, spreading out the related costs up to a 1 (one) year period. You will receive an invoice related to the services performed and parts replaced, if any.
Note that failure to make a payment could result in your water service being turned off until payment is made. All Township late payment rules apply. Lump payments are expected within 30 days of the date of service. Those who have chosen a payment agreement must make on time payments or water service may be terminated.
The only exception is rental properties. Tenants of these properties will be given 30 days notice of possible shut-off due to non-payment of grinder pump related charges by their landlords. The rules and Tenant options regarding this are spelled out in the Pennsylvania Tenant Utilities Rights Act.
Clarification for owners of rental properties
You, as the owner of the property, are responsible for each Grinder Pump on your property (ies). If you choose to have the Township tend to any Grinder Pump issues you may have, you will be billed for the services rendered, not your tenant. You MAY NOT, in turn, charge your Tenant(s) for the services rendered. This is a cost of doing business and should be expected as such from time to time. The reason for this is that due to the transient nature of rental units, it is quite possible that the current tenant did not, in fact, cause the issue. If you utilize your own personnel or an outside contractor for repairs or replacements, the same applies. It is in your best interest to inform your Tenants of the types of items not allowed to enter their sewer connection.
Tenants are to inform you, and the Township, if their Grinder Pump is malfunctioning.
In the case of Landlord owned Mobile Homes on leased properties owned by another person or entity where Grinder Pumps are installed, an agreement in writing should be made between the Landlord and the Lessee regarding who will be responsible for the Grinder Pump(s). A copy of this statement should also be put on file with the Township. If there is no such document on file with the Township, the Lessee will be responsible for the Grinder Pump(s).
Your Grinder Pump should provide many years of relatively trouble free service, they do however from time to time, present problems. The following is a list of usual problems encountered in order of normal occurrence…
- Jammed Cutters - usually caused by an object that should not have entered the sewer system. Allowing the pump to remain powered under this condition may case damage to the pump motor or shorten its service life.
- Stuck Float Switch in Grinder Pit - Normally a result of grease buildup within the Grinder Pump Pit. Grease sticks to the floats and pit side walls causing the float to stick to the wall.
- Defective motor starter in Control Box - contacts burn out - requires replacement of the starter.
- Power related issues - if there is an electrical problem, the pump will not run properly, or at all, it is also possible that the pump’s motor may be damaged or shorten its service life under these conditions.
- Blown Motor Shaft Seal - Upon inspection of the Grinder Pit, there is a layer of oil floating on top of the water.
- Corroded wire connections within the pit junction box. (Mainly applies to pits with flat lids. The junction box is located on the underside of the lid)
It is best to check for a possible power related issue first before delving into pulling the pump from the grinder pit. This could save you from having to pull the pump at all.
These pumps are heavy, sometimes stuck, and lifting assistance should be utilized when pulling them out.
What should or should not go into the Sewer System
In order to insure that your Grinder Pump gives you trouble free performance there are items that should not enter them. It is much easier to describe what can go into them than can’t…
- Human and animal waste (NO KITTY LITTER even if it says it’s flushable)
- Toilet Paper
- Bath/Shower water
- Dish/Dishwasher Water
- Laundry Water
- Kitchen wastes that have already gone through a waste disposal
That’s it! Nothing else should enter the Sewer.
NEVER pour anything down a drain that may be flammable or explosive either on its own or in combination with other chemicals.
Common Items that cause problems
- Feminine products
- Birth Control Devices including Prophylactics
- “Q” Tips
- Any form of Examination Glove
- Small Children’s Toys
- Cooking oils and Greases
- ANY type of Wipe, Paper Towel, or Napkin
Some of the Grinder Pump installations are in Flood prone areas. If you have received an evacuation order, PLEASE turn the power to the Grinder Pump off. If you don’t know how to do this, please call the Township Secretary so that she may set up an appointment for one of the Township Personnel to come out and show you how.
The Roulette Township Supervisors sincerely hope that you have found this document to be informative and clear in its statements, and that you found it helpful in understanding your responsibilities and options relating to your Grinder Pump(s).
If you have any further questions regarding your Grinder Pump, please don’t hesitate to direct them to either the Township Secretary so she may present them to the Supervisors, or the Township Sewer Operator, Kevin Bisher for a possible direct answer.
If you wish to have Township Personnel attend to your Grinder Pump issue, please call the Township Secretary at 544-7549. The Secretary will get things set up for a service call.
The Roulette Township Supervisors
Brian Drabert - Chairman