Grandview residents told to disconnect downspouts

August 28, 2012


PDT Staff Writer

Portsmouth Wastewater Director Rick Duncan says he will be sending out a notice this week telling 63 residents on Grandview Avenue to disconnect their downspouts from the city’s sanitary sewer lines, or to make other sewer repairs on their property.

Duncan said earlier this year that a study of sewers in the Grandview Avenue area was completed by the engineering firm Environmental Engineering Services (EES) of Lebanon, Ohio. He said the study found 63 homes in the northern Grandview area with downspouts of other connections which allow rainwater to flow directly into the sanitary sewers. Duncan said based on the results of the EES study, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has directed the city to implement the downspout disconnection plan.

Of particular concern, Duncan said, is a sanitary sewer in the service strip/alley at Grandview and Shawnee, north of 23rd Street — which also carries a large amount of sewage from Dorman Drive, Willow Way, and the surrounding area — which has a long history of surcharging and backing up into basements. As a result of the 63 rainwater connections found in the EES study, one-inch of rainfall can add approximately 60,000 gallons of rainwater into the sanitary sewer. This is approximately 20 times the normal flow rate. The additional rainwater from downspouts can cause sewage backups at the individual’s own property or to his or her neighbors.

“Basically they have to cut them (downspouts) off and divert the flow out into the yard or, if there is a storm sewer available, and there are some up there, they can tie into the storm sewer,” Duncan said. “But mostly they just cut the downspout off and then they have a diverter, like a splash-block, to divert the water into the yard.”

Duncan said a splash-block is similar to a tray with an open end that allows a homeowner to divert the runoff by putting an elbow in the end of the downspout, which diverts the water into the splash-block and then into the yard away from the house. He said that water would then go into the ground and not into the sanitary line.

“There’s a sanitary line behind the houses there on Grandview and that’s the one that backs up into the basements,” Duncan said. “What we’re trying to do is get all the storm water from people’s downspouts which are now tied into the sewers from their commodes and drains, diverted out of those lines because they are not supposed to have storm water in them.”

The Grandview Area Downspout Disconnection program is the first phase of a comprehensive plan being developed with the U.S. and Ohio EPA as part of a Long Term Control Plan to correct combined sewer problems throughout the City.

“Disconnecting downspouts of homes in the Grandview Area to keep rain water out of the sanitary sewers is just one first step in our efforts to reduce basement flooding. But it is an important step.” Duncan said.

City Ordinance No. 1319.04 (e) prohibits connections of roof downspouts or yard drains to sanitary sewers. “Connection of any pipe, carrying roof water or yard drainage to a sanitary sewer is prohibited.”

The City Engineering Department will issue the disconnection orders to the addresses identified in the EES report. Owners will be given 30 days to comply with the disconnection order.

The notices will be accompanied by a brochure prepared by the Wastewater Department with specific directions on how to properly disconnect downspouts. Duncan said those residents who feel they need help are encouraged to contact the City Wastewater Department for assistance.

Twenty-four of the 63 homes are located on Grandview Avenue. Other residents who will receive notices are on 25th and 27th Streets, Shawnee Road, Willow Way, Circle Drive, Dorman Drive, and other streets.

A brochure answering many of the common questions surrounding the program is being placed in each of the mailings.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com.