Owner Responsibility

Sewer Maintenance
Staff can be contacted at any time if you need to report a sewer mainline blockage, sewage overflow, or any other need for sewer maintenance. Call City Hall at (989) 823-8517 or for afterhours, call the on-call numbers located here. Sewer maintenance crews are available to respond to your sewer service problems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What is a Private Sewer Lateral?
Every home and business has a pipe that drains wastewater to the City owned sewer mainline. That pipe is called a private lateral. The City owned sewer mainline transports sewage to the Vassar Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

Property Owner’s Responsibility
Private property owners are responsible for properly operating and maintaining their private laterals, including the point of connection to the City owned sewer mainline. The proper maintenance of a private sewer lateral is important because the line can clog with roots and grease, and may cause a backup inside a home or business. A spill can also result in public and/or environmental health concerns.

How a Property Owner Can Maintain a Functional Sewer Lateral
1. Have your sewer lateral video inspected and cleaned routinely as necessary
2. Repair or replace deteriorated or damaged lateral pipes as soon as possible
3. Do not plant trees or large shrubs near sewer lateral pipes.
4. Never pour paint or building materials down a drain.

Is Your Sewer Stopped Up?
If you have a sewer back up and your plumber suspects the problem is not in your building or private sewer lateral, you can call City Hall at (989) 823-8517 or for afterhours, call the on-call numbers located here.  Sewer maintenance crews are available to respond to your sewer service problems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Why can’t the City repair my property’s sewer lateral under the street?
By law, public funds can not be spent for private purposes, therefore, the City is only responsible for its own property - not your line or connection to the main. This is why it is important to make sure your homeowner’s insurance covers sewer backups.

There are tree roots in my line, apparently from a tree. My plumber says the line must be broken, and he wants a lot of money to fix it. What should I do?
First, find out if the line is actually broken. This can be done using a TV camera designed to fit in the sewer pipe. Your plumber may be able to do this. If it is not broken (small cracks are common) and the line is clear, a regular treatment of root killer will mitigate root intrusion. If the line is broken, obtain several price quotations for its repair as prices vary greatly.

What is "Root Killer"?
Root killer is a generic term for a line of products that soften and destroy tree roots on contact. They are available at hardware stores. Used as directed, they alleviate most root problems, and should be a part of a regular sewer maintenance program. Their use for cleaning pipes will not harm the tree. Residents can also look into renting a root grinder from a local hardware store. 
Remember, Garbage Disposals are Not Trash Cans
Putting things down the drains that don't belong there could cause the sewer lines to back up for the whole building. Cooking oils and grease should never be put down your disposal. Once they cool, the fats harden and deposit in the pipes downstream in the building, which can lead to blockages. Never put coffee grounds in the garbage disposal because they do not dissolve for a long time, can build up in the pipes, and eventually fill a pipe or even your disposal. Very fibrous fruits or vegetables should also be kept out of the garbage disposal and put into the trash bin. Do not put large amounts of pasta down the garbage disposal at one time, which can also clog the pipes of a building. Even egg shells and citrus fruits are best thrown in the trash rather than down your disposal. 

know what to flush

Know What 2 Flush

Human waste and toilet paper should be the only thing going down the toilet. Unfortunately, over the years, people have turned the toilet into a trash can. Things to not put down your toilet include cotton products like cotton balls, q-tips, and feminine hygiene products, dental floss, thick paper towels, condoms, and medication. Even cat litter should not be put down the toilet because like the coffee grounds it does not dissolve for a long time and can actually cause a backup in the pipes. Similarly baby wipes and disposable cleaning cloths that are commonly sold in the cleaning aisles of stores should not be flushed down the toilet because they do not dissolve quickly enough and can get caught in the sewer pipes in the building.