Frequently Asked Questions
No, sanitary districts are not a branch of any city. They are formed under Chapter 358, Code of Iowa as a local government entity with taxing and bonding authority similar to cities, schools, etc. Sanitary districts have corporate boundaries just as cities and schools do. There are five publicly elected sanitary district trustees that oversee total operations as well as there are five publicly elected councilpersons that oversee total operations of their respective city and school boards.
Chapter 358 of the Code of Iowa stipulates that annexation into sanitary district boundaries is voluntary only and that any annexation petition must include the signatures of at least 25% of the valuation of property owners included on the petition. The annexation petition is prepared by the petitioner and submitted to the sanitary district trustees for approval. After the petition is approved, the homeowner must obtain a $50 connection permit from the sanitary district office and then hire an excavator that is bonded with the sanitary district.
Storm events that exert a large amount of precipitation can infiltrate into a sewage collection system and cause the system to become overloaded and possibly back-up into homes or businesses. A mechanical breakdown at a pump station can also create a back-up condition. Officials should avoid allowing rain-diluted or concentrated sewage from backing up into homes or businesses by pumping out of an overloaded sewage system and into a nearby drainage system. This procedure is based solely on the associated health risk of each choice. Sewage that backs up into a home or business is more concentrated and presents a higher health risk to those having to clean up as compared to pumping the sewage into a drainage system where further dilution of the sewage will minimize the health risks to everyone.Chances are that the homeowner has a sump pump discharging to a drainage system that will ultimately pump the backed-up sewage to the same outlet location that public workers designate but not before the destruction of private property and an increased health risk.
The pumping capacity of each pump station was designed to accommodate the maximum amount of flow that the existing gravity sewer collection systems can contribute plus additional capacity for future growth. The problem during extreme storm events is that the collection system (gravity pipes) become overloaded with storm water and can cause a backup and/ or bypass to occur. In reality, a storm event that will test the new system will be an extreme event that occurs once every 100 or 150 years.
This option was considered. In fact, a study of the leaky system was completed and cost effective projects were implemented, but a very small portion of the leaks were fixed. The cost associated with fixing the leaks to a point that would have made a significant impact was approximately four times the cost to build the system that we did. Another important fact to consider is that approximately one half of the total sewer pipe length is represented by the pipes that connect from the house to the main sewer pipe in the street and this service pipe is owned by the property owner and is therefore the homeowners responsibility. Therefore, fixing the leaks in the main pipe would have only resolved approximately one half of the total leaks, but still cost approximately four times the cost that we did pay.
Although there is no scientific data to support any claim, it is estimated that ex-filtration through a typical leaking joint does not occur. This claim is based on the following: the sewer pipes are typically lower than the ground water table therefore, there should be a greater pressure into the pipe than out of the pipe, the laws of physics indicate that it is easier for sewage to flow through an open sewer pipe than it is for liquid to try to penetrate through a leaking joint and relatively impermeable soil.
If you live inside city corporate limits you receive a blue bill. The blue colored bill is sent by the city of Clear Lake or Ventura and includes charges for water sold, possibly a garbage fee, and a sewer charge that is paid to maintain the sewer pipes that transport the sewage from your home or business to one of the sanitary district’s pump stations. The green bill is sent by the sanitary district and includes charges to maintain the sewage pump stations and the sanitary district’s treatment facility. Sanitary district customers living outside city corporate limits are charged a similar sewer maintenance fee by the sanitary district to maintain the sewage collection system serving that area.
Per Ordinance the base rate is charged to each and every building sewer connected to the sanitary sewer system regardless of occupancy or water service shut-off status. Disconnection is defined as being capped/plugged at a location near the edge of property, below grade.
The mailing date of the district¹s 5,000 sewer bills each month is controlled by the date when the District graciously receives the water meter readings from the city of Clear Lake. After city personnel update their accounts and mail their water bills, the water meter information is passed on to the District which occurs the first of each month. It takes office personnel four to five working days to update all accounts and complete the bill printing process. By Ordinance, the bills have to be mailed on or before the 10th of each month and are due on or before the 25th of each month.
There are three drop off locations in Clear Lake and one in Ventura. The drop-off locations in Clear Lake are at Manufacturers Bank and Trust, Clear Lake Bank and Trust, and City Hall. In Ventura you can drop off your payment at Farmers State Bank. There is also a drop box outside the gate at the Sanitary District office. Please note that cash payments are NOT accepted at any of the drop-off locations.
To initiate automatic payment (auto-withdrawal) from a bank account, you must notify this office so that we can mail you a form to fill out, sign, and return to this office with a voided check. When the process is completed, you will continue to receive a sanitary district sewer bill each month showing the amount withdrawn on the 25th of that month. The sewer bill will indicate ³auto withdraw 25th-do not pay..
The law states that water valves cannot be shut and/or locked for an unpaid sewer bill, only for unpaid water bills. Plugging the sewer service pipe for an unpaid sewer bill is illegal due to health issues. Therefore, the law clearly states that unpaid sewer bills are to be certified by sanitary districts as a lien against the property from which the bill was generated and not those who generated it.
Sump pumps should discharge to your lawn, street, or to a storm drain. A sump pump that discharges to the sanitary sewer is illegal and must be corrected. If homeowners are not sure of the legality of their sump pump connection, please call the sanitary district or your city’s public works department and a representative will inspect your system free of charge and/or penalty.
Every house situated on Clear Lake’s shoreline is connected to the sewer system. There are approximately 90 septic systems within the Clear Lake watershed area and approximately one half of those are within one half mile of the lake. There are approximately five or six septic systems within 1,000 feet of the lake. There are approximately 10 homes within the cities of Ventura and Clear Lake that are not in the lake watershed are but utilize a septic system.
No, the treated sewage is either pumped to Interstate Power and Light’s electric generation plant and used in the cooling water process and/or is discharged to a private drainage ditch that flows into Beaver Dam Creek and ultimately the Mississippi River.
The state law requires connection to the sanitary sewer system if any portion of your property, not structure, is within 300 feet of the public sewer system.
If you are building a new home inside the city limits you are required to obtain a building permit from city hall. Officials will provide you with connection details at that time, but you may want to check with those officials to find out the location and depth of the connection that you will make at the main sewer system so that your building elevations can be planned out. If you are building in the unincorporated area you must obtain a building permit from the county zoning department. This zoning permit must be reviewed and signed by the sanitary district administrator and the county public health department office. You must also obtain a $50 sewer-connection permit and a water meter from the sanitary district office. The cost of the water meter is $171.31. A licensed contractor who is bonded with the sanitary district must perform the actual work of connecting the sewer pipe to the sanitary sewer system and installing the water meter. All prices quoted are subject to change.