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 River Club Estates (RCE) pump stations are connected to this line. The Pixie Park and Forest Park stations pump the flow from lower elevations to points in the system where it then flows by gravity to the RCE pump station.
There are currently 834 sewer connections, of which 354 are direct flow into the sewer collection system, while the remaining 480 share 462 septic tanks. There are also 23 City-maintained small sewer pumps to overcome elevation problems. The City is responsible for the maintenance, replacement and pumping 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 Collection Maintenance Department is funded entirely by sewer usage charges, connection fees, and other miscellaneous sources.
The Sewer Department is staffed by the Public Works Superintendent, Micah Rogers and three Utility Workers. 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. Their mailing address is PO Box 189, Columbia City, OR 97018. The City Shop is located at 1755 Second Place.
Current Rates and General Regulations for Water and Sewer Services– Last revision to information was July 1, 2023
DEPARTMENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN 2019-20:
- Completed routine septic tank inspection and pumping services.
- Completed routine inspection and servicing on the City-owned residential sewer pumps.
- Assisted in the development, design and implementation of the K Street Pump Improvement Project.
- Installed five new service connections for construction.
- Installed two new lift station pumps.
DEPARTMENT OBJECTIVES FOR 2020-21:
- To complete the K Street Pump Station Improvements Project in accordance with 2020-21 Policy Goal and Objective 3G and as outlined in the Five-Year Capital Improvement Program. Target date: September 30, 2020.
- To complete the Steel Tank Abandonment and Sewer Main Improvement Project in accordance with 2020-21 Policy Goal and Objective 3A and as outlined in the Wastewater Facilities Plan and Five-Year Capital Improvement Program. Target date: December 31, 2020.
- 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 as outlined in the Wastewater Facilities Plan. 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 2020-21 Policy Goal and Objective 3D 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.
- To update the November 2004 Sanitary Sewer Systems Development Charge Study in accordance with 2020-21 Policy Goal and Objective 3H. Target date: December 31, 2020.