Sump pump discharges in Jamestown increase lift station work

Sump pump discharge water is going into the sanitary sewer system, which is a city ordinance violation.

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An exterior sump pump unit next to the house shows proper draining with a hose leading toward the street as seen in northeast Jamestown.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN – The city of Jamestown’s lift stations are seeing a significant increase in run times due to sump pumps in basements discharging water into the sanitary sewer system instead of the storm sewer system outside, according to Travis Dillman, city engineer.

The normal flows coming into the wastewater treatment facility are about 1.3 million to 1.5 million gallons per day, said Jim Marsolek, lead operator for the sanitary sewer department. Currently, about 4 million to 4.3 million gallons are coming into the wastewater treatment facility.

“We do have infiltration. There’s no doubt about that,” he said. “I would say we have as much or more coming from sump pumps than anything else. It’s coming from high ground so it’s not even by the river.”

Dillman said extra water coming into the lift stations is coming from areas outside of the valley and from areas on the hills in Jamestown. He said the increase of water is not a direct correlation to the combined releases of 1,400 cubic feet per second from the reservoirs.

“Sump pump discharge needs to be discharged outside to the street to the storm sewer system and not to the sanitary sewer system,” he said. “That’s what I think would be the biggest help to our overall aspect of saving effort on the pumps because those pumps are running way too much. It’s been able to handle the flow.”


Dillman said people are taking their sump pump discharge and dumping it into the floor drain, which then goes into the sanitary sewer system and the lift stations. He said almost everyone has an exterior pipe where the sump pump discharge can go, which goes out into the grass in their yards or into the street.

“If it is getting out into their yard outside of the house, that’s fine,” he said. “Eventually it will build up and go out to the curb and gutter and into a storm sewer system, but it should not go into a basement floor drain or anything that is tied to the sanitary sewer.”

It is a v iolation of the city of Jamestown’s municipal code to run sump pump discharge water into the sanitary sewer system located inside a home or building. Section 30-36 of the city of Jamestown municipal code states:

  • No person shall permit rain, surface or groundwaters to be carried into the sewer system. Rainwater leaders shall not be connected with or run into the sewer system.
  • Drain tile, sump pumps or other systems designed to eliminate the accumulation of seepage or other groundwater shall not be connected with or run into the sewer system.

Marsolek said cutting the amount of sump pump discharge will help the city save money on the electricity that is used to run the lift stations and maintenance costs.
“Maintenance on these pumps is big money,” he said. “They are not cheap to keep up. You are taking hours and hours and hours of run time of use off them.”

A wastewater lift station moves wastewater from a lower elevation to higher ground. Marsolek said there are 19 lift stations in Jamestown and one at Cavendish.

The Jamestown City Council met Monday, Aug. 1.

“In a collection system for the sanitary sewer, it leaves your house, it goes into a sanitary sewer service line from your house out to the main in the street,” Dillman said. “Then you have manholes at intersections that take that and eventually because it’s all gravity fed, it is just too far of stretches and they get too deep, so then we need to actually have a lift station to pump that water up in elevation to get through town.”

He said the wastewater in town eventually goes to a master lift station that pumps everything to the lagoons at the wastewater treatment facility located on the southwest corner of the Bloom exit on Interstate 94.

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Wastewater in town eventually goes to this master lift station that pumps everything to the lagoons at the wastewater treatment facility located on the southwest corner of the Bloom exit on Interstate 94.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

The lagoons at the wastewater treatment facility currently have the capacity for the extra wastewater discharge, said Syed Sajid Ahmad, utility operations manager at the wastewater treatment plant.


Marsolek said the extra wastewater in the lagoons will need to be discharged a little more often, but it’s not an issue at the wastewater treatment facility.

“Once it’s gone through its treatment process, then it gets discharged into the river once it is completely treated,” he said.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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