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Did you know that most newer homes have two different pumps in the basement? One is a sump pump, which collects groundwater from footing drains around the house, and pumps that water out to the ground's surface. The other is an ejector pump, which collects water from floor drains, wash basins, washing machines, and other plumbing items in your basement. As a homeowner, it's important to understand the different between these systems and what they're designed to do.

The flow that is pumped out of your ejector pump goes directly into your sanitary service line (usually a 6" pipe from your house out to the sewer line in the street) to the City's sanitary sewer. The waste from all of your plumbing fixtures in your house (sinks, washing machine, toilets, showers, floor drains, etc.) must go through your sanitary service line to the City's sanitary sewer system. From there, this wastewater travels to the City's wastewater treatment plant, where it is treated for pollutants, solids are removed, and the water is returned to the environment.

The flow that is pumped out of your sump pump is returned to the environment as surface waters without further treatment. This is considered "clean" surface water since it has not been polluted with any human waste. More information about sump pumps may be found in the section below.

It's important that illegal connections of downspouts and sump pumps are not made to the sanitary system, because then clean surface waters end up at our treatment plant and can potentially overwhelm our wastewater treatment plant, which is not designed to accept a large volume of rainwater and groundwater. Additionally, the water from your sump pump helps to recharge groundwater tables in the area when it is appropriately discharged on the ground's surface away from your house and can soak back into the ground.

If you are experiencing backups or malfunctions with one of your pumps in your house, it's important to determine which pump is the culprit so that basement flooding and backups can be appropriately addressed. Problems with either of these pumps are the responsibility of the homeowner.

If your ejector pump is functioning properly but your sanitary service line is blocked and causing a backup, please call the City before calling a plumber so that City crews can check the City's sanitary sewer main for blockage. If the main is functioning properly, the homeowner or business owner must then schedule a licensed plumber to rod the private sewer service line.

It's the time of year when sump pumps are active, and yards become soggy with spring and summer rains.

Sump pumps typically pump water from a sump pit in your basement. The water that enters the sump pit has typically collected by soaking through the ground and into your footing drains. This system helps to keep your basement dry, particularly during times of high ground water conditions. This discharge should never be routed into your sanitary service leaving your house.

Per the City's Municipal Code, sump pumps shall discharge a minimum of 3 feet from your foundation wall, as well as a minimum of 3 feet from property lines. The purpose of this is to get the water away from the foundation wall, but keep it from discharging directly onto your neighbor's property. This gives the discharge an opportunity to soak into the ground and recharge the natural groundwater table away from your foundation. Typically, storm sewers are not designed to accommodate sump pump drainage, so direct connections of sump pumps to storm sewers are not allowed.

Several options exist for rerouting sump pump drainage and alleviating wet areas in your yard. Any burial of sump pump drainage lines requires a permit in order to ensure that the work being done will not adversely affect the drainage of your neighborhood. Please contact the Community Development Department for more information at (630) 293-2200 X 131.