Properly installed downspouts and sump pumps are designed to direct rainwater and groundwater away from your property, but where does that water go? Suppose your downspouts disappear into the ground, or your sump pump is connected to another pipe in your home. In that case, they may be draining into Stafford’s sanitary sewer system, a violation of Utilities ordinances. Downspouts that connect directly to sewer pipes increase the risk of sewer overflow and flooding. Disconnecting your downspout from a sewer intake pipe, then redirecting the flow of water to a grassy area or garden is a simple process that makes a big difference to the environment.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a one-inch rainstorm deposits 27,154 gallons of rainwater on just one acre. That is a lot of water draining into the sanitary sewer lines. With the advent of the hurricane season upon us, now is an excellent time to check the draining path of your downspouts and sump pump.
The sanitary sewer system is designed to collect and transport all of the sewage that flows into it and transport it to one of Stafford’s two wastewater treatment facilities. The excessive, unnecessary inflow of rainwater into the sanitary sewer system can cause sewer backups and overflows that can damage homes and businesses and can be expensive to repair.
The County’s utility and sewer user ordinance require that sump pump and downspout discharge to the backyard of a property or nearby stormwater pond or drain (Ord. No. 093-39, 10-12-93). Stafford County regularly inspects the public sewer system for sources of excess flow, but stormwater coming from private sources can be difficult to identify. Starting in June 2021, the County will be conducting inflow studies in areas that have historically experienced sanitary sewer overflows to identify the sources of inflow. According to Utilities Director Chris Edwards, the study is designed to help the County determine how stormwater is infiltrating the sanitary sewer system.
If you are unsure of where your downspouts or sump pump drain, you can contact the Department of Public Works at (540) 658-8695 to request an inspection and review of your downspout and sump pump connection.