Wastewater FAQ’s

Q: Who owns and operates the Wastewater Treatment Facility and Collection System?

A: The City of Ottawa owns and operates the Treatment Facility and the community´s collection system. At present the facility has on staff, one certified Class I operator as Superintendent, and six other employees, five of which are certified Class III or Class IV operators. The staff receives continual training to keep current with new technologies and improved operating procedures. The City of Ottawa has 23 sewage pump stations located throughout the community. The Wastewater Treatment Facility staff is responsible for the operation and maintenance of these stations, the main treatment plant, and approximately 100 miles of underground sanitary sewer mains.

Q: How can you be sure the Wastewater Treatment Facility is doing it´s job?

A: The City of Ottawa´s Wastewater Treatment Facility is highly regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. These agencies perform random testing of the facilities . The USEPA, through the IEPA, issues a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit. Included in the are specific guidelines concerning the testing of the facility´s effluent. The City of Ottawa performs lab analysis 4 days per week, which is more frequent than the NPDES Permit requires. Our facility averages 87% less and 84% less in it´s effluent, than the allowable maximum limits under the City´s NPDES Permit.

Q: Sewage is backing up in my basement, what should I do?

A: Do NOT run anymore water or flush a toilet. Call the City of Ottawa Wastewater Treatment Plant at 433-0245 Monday thru Friday 7:00am to 3:30pm. After hours, and on weekends and holidays call the Ottawa Police Department at 433-2131 and tell them you are experiencing a sewer backup, give them your name, address, and phone number, and they will contact someone to come out. When our personnel arrive they will check the City´s sanitary sewer main for blockages or backups. If there is no problem with the sewer main, they will advise you of that, so you can contact a plumber to resolve your problem. If a problem is discovered in the sewer main they will begin to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. They may have to leave to get more equipment and/or personnel, if that’s the case they will return as quickly as possible to resolve the problem. They will advise you after the sewer main problem has been resolved.

Q: How can I prevent future sewer backups?

A: One way to prevent sewage from backing up into your residence is through the installation of a Sewer Back-Flow Preventer on the sanitary sewer lateral that connects your home´s sewer pipe to the City´s sanitary sewer main. Further information is available by calling the Wastewater Treatment Plant during regular business hours at 433-0245. Information will also be available on this website soon.

The two most common causes of sewer backups are roots, and grease blockages in your home’s sewer pipe.

You need to be aware of where your sewer line is located, and avoid planting trees and shrubs near it. Roots can creep into the sewer pipe at joints or cracks, and over time cause a blockage. If roots have caused problems in the past, there is a good chance that they will cause more problems in the future also. You can have the trees or shrubs removed and in time that may help, but be aware that even if the tree is removed, its roots can continue to grow for years. Typically the best way to clear a blockage is to call a professional sewer cleaning service. They can “cut” the roots from your sewer pipe.

Avoid using the kitchen sink and garbage disposal for grease and food scraps. Vegetables, meat scraps, butter, cooking oils, and many other foods deposit grease and solids that can build up in pipes over time, and create a blockage in your sewer pipes. Instead of putting food waste into your garbage disposal, scrape the food waste from plates and pans into the garbage. Let melted oils used for cooking, solidify in a container (empty juice containers or coffee cans work well) on the counter or in the refrigerator before placing it in the garbage.

Q: It smells like “sewer gas” in my basement , what should I do?

A: The most common cause of “sewer gas” (hydrogen sulfide) odor in basements is due to improperly maintained floor drains. The floor drains in your basement are designed to “trap” the hydrogen sulfide gases in the sewer and keep them out of your home. To remedy the problem, locate all the floor drains in your basement, and pour at least a quart of water into each one on a weekly basis.