The Collection System
collection system is one of the key pieces of LaPorte's
infrastructure and is instrumental in helping keep our local Lakes and
environment in excellent condition. Without a means of transporting the
sewage generated in LaPorte to a facility where it can be properly
treated, the sewage would end up contaminating our lakes and groundwater
and be a prime source for the spread of disease and illness.
system for the City of LaPorte consists of approximately 31 miles of
sanitary sewer pipes and 69 miles of combined sanitary sewer / storm water
pipes. This intricate network of pipes and lift stations exists to
make sure that the wastewater that gets flushed everyday from the homes
and industries of La Porte makes it way to the Wastewater Treatment Plant
(WWTP) to be properly cleaned and treated before it is recycled
back into the environment.
The majority of the collection system
works on gravity. The wastewater flows into the underground pipes at
an elevated level, then follows the downward direction of the pipe to its
final destination at the WWTP.
Due to the large and varied geographic
area that LaPorte covers, you can't have a single pipe that flows
continuously from the northern edge of LaPorte all the way to the
WWTP. So instead of having one pipe, the sewage flows into a deep
pit with pumps that "lifts" the sewage to a higher elevation
where it can start flowing downwards again (see graphic at right).
These lift stations are a key component of maintaining the collection
system in working order. If the lift station were to fail, sewage
could fill the pump pit and overflow onto the ground causing a potential
environmental hazard. The City of LaPorte currently uses remote
monitoring (SCADA) on 16 of its 22 lift stations and is in the process of
adding remote monitoring to the other 6.
When LaPorte was being built during the 19th and 20th centuries, it was common practice to take the rain water run off from roads and homes and drain that water into the sewer system to get it away from the town. This practice of "combining" the storm water drainage system with the sanitary sewage removal system has resulted in combined sewer systems. A large number of the 772 cities with combined sewer systems are located in the Midwest as can be seen from the following map.
When it rains, cities that have
Combined Sewer systems don't have the capability to treat all the water
that goes into the collection system. This results in a Combined
Sewer Overflow (CSO) during which storm water and untreated sewage
are discharged directly to the environment. The Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) in coordination with the individual State
environmental departments have passed laws that are designed to greatly
reduce, if not eliminate CSO events in the future. For more information on
CSO's and the status of LaPorte's CSO, please follow this link - LaPorte's
Unlike the Combined Sewer systems
described above, a Storm sewer system is a series of pipes that is
designed to exclusively carry rain water away from city streets, homes and
businesses. These pipe systems typically discharge directly into
area lakes, rivers and streams without any but the most minimal
treatment. That is why it is always important to remember to never
pour anything into a catch basin! Items like used motor oil, old
paint, weed killer and pesticides should always be disposed of in a
Sewers are designed to have enough difference in level from the beginning to the end of the system to keep the sewage moving through it at a fast pace. Sometimes, however, material gets caught in the pipe and blocks the water from getting past it. The cause of blockages typically are the result of:
All these things can cause a sewer line to
plug. The first sign that there may be trouble is the drains from kitchen
and bathroom sinks and bathtubs slowing down or the toilet may not flush
as good as it used to.
If you are experiencing a sewer back-up, before
you call a plumber please call the LaPorte Wastewater Facility at 362-2354.
We will dispatch our personnel to make sure that the City's trunk line or
"sewer main" is clear and flowing normal. If the blockage
is in the City's' sewer main we will clean it at no charge to the
customer! If the City's sewer main is clear and flowing normally, we
will inform you that the problem is in your private line and that you may
need to contact a plumber to assist you in clearing out your line.
What is the