Spring is a time for many to run their lawn sprinklers and start washing their cars outside, which can increase water bills and waste water.
The City of Manassas takes water conservation seriously, so much so that in the past five years, they’ve decreased sewer flow by more than 123,000 gallons per year, saving the City of Manassas $775,000, as part of an aggressive inflow and infiltration program.
“Manassas Utilities is in an ongoing process to review our sanitary sewer processes, making sure we’re reducing overflows, maintaining proper capacity and rehabilitating any pipes,” said Mike Moon, director of public works and utilities for the City of Manassas. “By proactively monitoring our sewer systems, we’re able to significantly save on sewer treatment costs and pass on some additional savings to our customers,” said Moon.
Customers are billed on two basic rates: distribution and a 'pass through' rate for treatment costs through the Upper Occoquan Service Authority (UOSA) treatment plant. Although Manassas City’s sewer distribution rate has increased a few percentage points in the past few years, the inflow and infiltration program has helped reduce the pass-through UOSA costs paid by customers. In other words, customers’ overall rate would have increased more if the inflow and infiltration program had not been implemented.
Inflow and infiltration are terms used to describe the ways that groundwater and storm water enter a sanitary sewer system, which is a pipe located in the street that is designed to transport wastewater from sanitary fixtures, like sinks, showers, bathtubs, etc. This is not to be confused with a storm sewer, which is a pipe designed to carry rainwater away. Inflow is the water that is dumped into the sewer system through improper connections, such as downspouts and groundwater sump pumps. (Sump pumps that pump only laundry water or other sanitary wastes are not a problem.) Infiltration is groundwater that enters the sewer system through leaks in the pipe.
Manassas has conducted a sanitary sewer evaluation of its system and identified areas where excessive inflow and infiltration exist, as well as operates routine inspections and testing methods, which include smoke testing, TV inspections, manhole inspections, flow monitoring, dye testing, sump pump removal and pipe replacement.
The City of Manassas suggests customers can do their part to save on their water and sewer bill and conserve water with these top 10 water conservation tips:
- Check for leaks with all sink/toilet fixtures.
- Turn off the water after wetting your toothbrush.
- Reduce shower time.
- Run your dishwasher or laundry washer only when full, and try to use Energy-Star rated appliances.
- Consider a compost pile, rather than relying on the garbage disposal which requires water for use.
- Use your lawn sprinkler sparingly and make sure water is reaching the lawn only, rather than any cement or sidewalk areas.
- Don’t run water continuously when washing and rinsing dishes by hand, rather fill the sink.
- Mulch around tree and plant areas to help retain some moisture.
- Children’s water toys that need a consistent stream of water can waste a lot of water, consider alternatives.
- Try a water hose nozzle when washing your car, or turn off water completely when not in use.
For more information, go to www.manassascity.org or call 703-257-8276.