The Sewer Department is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the sewer collection system. The City's sewer collection system is composed of gravity sewer lines, pump stations, and forcemains encompassing over 16 miles of pipeline. The original sewer system was designed to be a septic tank effluent system with small diameter mainlines laid at a minimum depth of 4-feet and at shallower grades than is typically used for sewers that receive direct flow. Some areas of town do not have septic tanks and are serviced by direct flow of the sewage to the collection system.
All wastewater is pumped to the City of St. Helens for treatment via a 6-inch diameter forcemain. The “K” Street and the River Club Estates (RCE) pump stations are connected to this line. The Pixie Park and Forest Park pump stations pump flows from lower elevations to points in the system where it ten flows by gravity to the RCE pump station.
There are currently 816 sewer connections. Of the total connections, 286 are direct flow into the sewer collection system, while the remaining 530 share 458 septic tanks. There are also 23 City-maintained small sewer pumps to overcome elevation problems. The City is responsible for the maintenance and replacement of all of the septic tanks connected to the system, as well as the small pumps that were in place when the City's sewer system was constructed, except in certain cases where property owners have refused to provide the City with easements for maintenance purposes.
The Sewer Department is staffed by the Public Works Superintendent, Micah Rogers, two Utility Workers, and seasonal help. The Public Works Superintendent is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations and the development of the City sewer system, and for supervising the sewer system maintenance staff. The department can be reached by calling (503) 366-0454, or faxing to (503) 366-2870. Their mailing address is PO Box 189, Columbia City, OR 97018. You can also contact them directly through the online contact form. The City Shop is located at 1755 Second Place.
Current Rates and General Regulations for Water and Sewer Services - Last revision to information was June 2016.
DEPARTMENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN 2015-16:
• Secured $25,000 in funding assistance from the Port of St. Helens Intergovernmental Partnership Program to put towards pump and electrical improvements to the RCE lift station, which were substantially completed in March 2016.
• Completed the replacement of one steel tank with a concrete tank, the abandonment of 16 steel tanks, and upsized nearly 2,000 linear feet of 4-inch sewer main with 6-inch main.
• Lined 25 manholes to reduce inflow and infiltration.
• Discovered a sewer clean out that was a major contributor to inflow and infiltration and made modifications to correct the problem.
• Completed routine septic tank inspection and pumping services.
DEPARTMENT OBJECTIVES FOR 2016-17:
To eliminate the remaining steel septic tanks within the collection system by either abandoning the tank and converting the service to a direct flow connection, or by replacing the steel tank with a concrete tank, in accordance with 2016-17 Policy Goal and Objective 3A and as outlined in the Wastewater Facilities Plan and Five-Year Capital Improvement Program. Target date: June 30, 2018.
To reduce system maintenance and liability by eliminating septic tanks by converting services to a direct flow connection in areas where the sewer collection system is constructed in a manner that will handle the flow of solids. Target date: Ongoing.
To continue to retrofit existing septic tanks by raising accesses and installing clean outs to enable easier maintenance. Target date: Ongoing.
To continue to implement the septic tank pumping plan and perform routine system maintenance to prevent sewer backups. Target date: Ongoing.
To target the elimination of shared septic tanks as resources permit, in an effort to further reduce sewer backups, with the addition of new tanks or direct flow upgrades. Target date: Ongoing.
To continue to work towards the prevention of inflow and infiltration of sewer lines in an effort to reduce the amount of sewer flow, which will reduce sewer treatment costs and add system capacity, in accordance with 2016-17 Policy Goal and Objective 3E and as outlined in the Wastewater Facilities Plan and Five Year Capital Program. Target date: Ongoing.
To continue to meet all requirements and regulations governing sewer systems through upgraded facilities and well-educated staff. Target date: Ongoing.
To emphasize special training and education of department employees. Target date: Ongoing.
To seek grant and forgivable loan opportunities for identified sewer improvement projects. Target date: Ongoing.
CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS PLANNED IN 2016-17:
Steel Tank Replacement and Abandonment. The City continue to abandon and/or replace 29 remaining steel tanks that are used to hold solids while the sewer collection system carries effluent. When feasible, the tanks will be abandoned and the services will be converted to direct gravity flow connection. In some instances, however, new concrete holding tank will be installed. Estimated cost: $105,000.
Inflow and Infiltration (I&I) Reduction. This project involves spot repairs to reduce I&I at several locations what were identified during video inspection. The project also involves additional investigative work in an effort to identify other sources of I&I. Estimated cost: $35,000.
City of Columbia City • P.O. Box 189 • 1840 Second Street • Columbia City, OR 97018 • (503) 397-4010 • Contact Us