The Water Distribution/Wastewater Collection Maintenance Division maintains approximately 188.12 miles of water, 149.58 miles of sewer lines and 8 sewer pump stations. The division is responsible for water/sewer line construction, maintenance and repair and installation of connections to city water. Staff is also responsible for testing, repairing, installing and replacing water meters.
Property owner's responsibility
The City of Newton is responsible for maintaining unobstructed wastewater flow in the sanitary sewer system. The line that connects a house or building to the sewer system is called a service lateral. If a blockage occurs causing a sewer backup, the City encourages residents to call the City so a crew can verify which part of the line is obstructed.
A City crew will check the main line and clear the line if necessary. If the main line is clear, the property owner will be notified of the need to call a plumber to clear the service lateral. Occasionally there are blockages in service laterals that extend into the utility right-of-way. Should this occur the City will maintain the line to the clean out if requested. However, the property owner is ultimately responsible for the entire length of the service lateral.
Should you have a backwater valve?
The City of Newton would like to inform citizens of a relatively inexpensive item that will help prevent sewer back-ups and overflows on their property or in their home.
The N.C. Plumbing Code requires that a backwater valve be installed in all structures if they have a plumbing fixture that has a flood rim elevation below the next upstream city sewer manhole. City residents can avoid sewer back-ups by installing this backwater valve, which is designed to prevent a sewer back-up in the customer’s plumbing caused by a blockage in the sewer system. The valve allows sewage to leave the residence or business but does not allow sewage to flow back into the property. The flood rim elevation is the level at which a fixture, such as a toilet or sink, will overflow.
Although backwater valves have been required for a long time by the N.C. Plumbing Code, it is possible that some homes or businesses that have fixtures with flood rim elevations below the next upstream sewer manhole may not have a backwater valve installed. Any structure with plumbing fixtures below the next upstream sewer manhole is at risk of sewage backing up into the structure. Structures with plumbing fixtures in basements are more likely to need a backwater valve installed.
Residents are advised that the City is not responsible for damages caused by a sewer back-up on private property if a required backwater valve has not been installed. Installation of a backwater valve can help residents avoid costly damages to their property. While the City does not install backwater valves, staff will help determine if a backwater valve is needed upon request.
For more information, call the Newton Public Works and Utilities Department at 828-695-4310.
Why do sewer lines block?
Many things can become lodged in a sewer line causing a back-up; e.g. sticks, rocks, bricks, pieces of broken pipe, string, gas, grease, paper towels, newspapers, sanitary napkins, plastics, etc… Many blockages occur as a result of tree roots growing into sewer pipes. Roots collect grease and animal fat poured down drains. Over time, this collection of debris can cause an obstruction. You can help prevent sewer backups in your home and protect the environment if you adhere the following advice:
Do not use the toilet as a garbage can. Do not flush rags, sanitary napkins, plastic items, cigarette butts, etc., which may clog your sewer line. The minimum inside diameter of the pipe carrying wastewater from a building to the sewer main is 4 inches.
Use the garbage disposal with enough water to flush debris all the way to the sewer main. Otherwise, grease and detergent may harden and clog your line. For more grease disposal tips click here.
Know the location of the clean-out on your property edge so City employees can readily ensure that the City's portion of the system is free of debris.
Should you have any questions regarding the treatment of wastewater in your community or need to report a sewer problem, please feel free to call the Newton Public Works and Utilities Department at 828-695-4310.