Illegal Sump-Pump Hookups Prompt Town To Commission $200,000 ‘Inflow Study’ of Sewer System 


An increasing number of New Canaan residents appear to be illegally connecting sump pumps to the town’s sewers, prompting municipal officials this week to commission a $200,000 “inflow study” of the system.

Sump pumps are supposed to be connected to the storm drain system, “but they get hooked to the sewer system, so we’ll see a big spike during a storm,” according to Jim Rogers, superintendent of the Department of Public Works Water Pollution Control Facility.

“We are receiving an excessive amount of water at the Treatment Plant and it’s getting progressively worse,” Rogers told members of the Board of Selectmen at their regular meeting, held Tuesday at Town Hall. “The past two storms that we had brought us right to the limit of what the plant can handle, and we have to evaluate the sewer system. It’s something we have to do.”

The plant is designed to handle 7 million gallons of water “and we were right at 7 million” as a result of recent storms, Rogers said.

“Luckily we have a containment area where we can put sewage into during the storms, and we just made it last time,” he said. “The problem here is that if we don’t do it, eventually the state could come back and they could put a moratorium on us to where we couldn’t hook up any more laterals, any more buildings. So now is the time to move forward.”

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted 3-0 to approve the contract with AECOM, the town’s consultant engineers.

Public Works Director Tiger Mann said residents are taking sump pumps and hooking them up to washing machine outlets, so the water they’re pumping “will come straight to us” at the Treatment Plant, rather than flowing into the stormwater system.

“We can see the number at the plant, as far as when it starts to rain, you can see the volume increase and skyrocket,” Mann said.

As part of its study, AECOM figure out how many gauges or “flow meters”must be set up in the sewer system throughout town, then look at results following a rain event, Rogers said.

“They’ll come back with a report and then we’ll move forward from there as to what we should do to correct the problem,” he said.

Funds for the study will come out of what Moynihan called the “major maintenance repair” budget.

The selectmen asked Rogers when the problem began to emerge (about 10 years ago), whether homeowners can be reminded about legal versus illegal hookups (it’s on the town’s website but yes a communication could go out through “the newspaper”), whether specific houses and homeowners in violation could be identified (no, more general areas and streets), whether the gauges in the system would be permanently installed for ongoing tracking (no), how long they would be in (about 12 weeks) and when they would go in (after a dry and then rainy period, likely next spring).

The problem originates with existing homes, not new construction, officials said. Referring to storm water that gets pumped, Rogers said one of the biggest problems with addressing the violations “is that we’ve got to make sure that there is a place to put the water.”

Mann said that a number of years ago, a problem emerged on Kimberly Place where the residents there had no place other than the street to pump stormwater, which created a problem in the winter with ice. The town extended a stormwater drainage line specifically for the residents to use, which solved the problem, Mann said.

Enforcement of the proper sump pump hookups can be difficult, Rogers said, since inspectors may go to a house suspected of an illegal hookup and “if you go they disconnect, and when you walk out the door they can connect it back.”

One thought on “Illegal Sump-Pump Hookups Prompt Town To Commission $200,000 ‘Inflow Study’ of Sewer System 

  1. This is happening right now at the renovation of 51-53 Vitti Street. The sump pump system is not being tied into the storm drain system. This is causing problems for my home and that of my neighbors. This is unfair and needs to be addressed.

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