CCWD Customers Encouraged To Conserve Water
Flooding in Valley Springs in Calaveras County
Calaveras County, CA – With multiple atmospheric river storms hitting the state, bringing significant rain amounts and damaging winds that caused widespread power outages, Calaveras County Water District (CCWD) is encouraging customers to conserve water.
The goal is to lessen the load on backup generators for key infrastructure facilities, while also reducing the negative impacts of possible generator failures. Those could include a loss of water treatment capacity or sewage spills. CCWD is urging customers to avoid any unnecessary uses of water, including watering lawns and outdoor landscaping, washing vehicles, filling swimming pools, washing off hardscapes, flushing toilets after every use, washing clothes, running the dishwasher, and taking baths or long showers.
Regarding the impact on Septic Tank Influent Pump (STEP) and other sewer systems, the district recommends that all county residents be aware that small electric septic tanks and some homes connected to public sewer system pumps will not function during power outages without a generator.
“When the power is out, it is very important to conserve water that will enter septic tanks, including water used in sinks, toilets, showers, washers, etc. In particular, sewage grinder pump tanks have very little storage and could overflow with very little water usage,” according to district officials, who added, “Residents in that situation would have to stop the flow of water immediately to avoid a sewage spill.”
Customers using septic tanks that are owned and maintained by CCWD can avoid sewage spills during power outages. The district is asking its sewer customers who live in Mill Woods, West Point, Southworth, Vallecito, Indian Rock Vineyards, and Six Mile Village to only use water for “critical health and safety needs.”
District officials also ask customers to “watch out for rain or storm drains that may flow in the direction of their sewer system.” A blockage could result in “increased water pumping costs, deplete the available capacity of the sewer system, and add needlessly to the daily volume of water that the treatment plant must process.” District officials added, “In addition, floodwater can enter the system and force solid materials into the drain field or create a sewage backup.”
CCWD gives this advice to owners of Septic Tank Effluent Pumped (STEP) systems and sewage grinders.
- It is important to understand whether you have a STEP system or a sewage system grinder pump tank.
- If you have one of these items and do not own a standby generator, water usage during a power outage event can result in a sewage spill.
- Conservation is the best way to ensure against accidentally spilling sewage out of your septic tank or sewage grinder pump tank.
- If you have a STEP system with pumps, you will have a box at your house similar to what is pictured.
- Sewage is conveyed by gravity to the tank through your plumbing line.
- Liquid waste is pumped under pressure to the public sewer system from your tank.
- Your system is designed to work normally once the power returns
- Your tank has the capacity for approximately 24 hours of limited use in a power outage (e.g., toilets, sinks and showers).
Sewage Grinder Pump Tanks:
- Have essentially no storage at all.
- Exist where properties must pump its sewage up a steep hill or incline. An example of properties within CCWD Service Areas that could have grinder pumps are Poker Flat Subdivision in Copperopolis, Forest Meadows, and areas of Arnold.
If you experience a septage overflow:
- Stop the flow of water immediately.
- Isolate running toilets and dripping faucets.
- If unable to isolate the source of water in your home, you can always shut your house valve off. The house valve is usually located near the home where the plumbing enters the house and are place in out of the way areas such as under the deck, or on the side of the home near the foundation.
- If you cannot locate your house valve, you may have a customer valve in the meter box that you can shut off.
- Customer valves are located on the house side of the meter.
- If you cannot locate your Customer Valve or one does not exist, please call the District at 209-754-3543 for assistance.
The Calaveras County Department of Environmental Health also asks that customers report any breaches to a septic system or drain field.