Frequently Asked Sewer Questions
Who is responsible for cleaning up sewage spills, overflows, etc?
Spills on private property or inside a private building are the responsibility of the property owner. The city maintains its sewers on a regular basis, but because there is no way to control inappropriate debris placed into the sewer, the City of Thomasville is exempt from fault of sewer back ups when there is no knowledge of the blockage or negligence on the part of the city.
Many insurance policies do not cover sewer back ups.
Please check your policy and consider adding a rider for sewage back ups if you are not covered. If you have sustained damage, please contact the City of Thomasville Risk Management Department at 229-227-7001 or ECC at 229-227-5499 (after regular hours only) and your insurance carrier. A sewer crew will come out and inspect the mainline for potential blockages. We recommend that pictures be taken of any damage sustained to assist you with your insurance claim.
Is my property in a sewer serviced area? -Or- Is my property already hooked to sewer?
Please call 229-227-7009 during regular work times (8am – 5pm) and ask to speak with the engineering staff. If you would like to streamline the process, please have your Assessor's Parcel Number available. This number can be found on your annual tax bill. If you don't have a tax bill available, we can locate the property if you provide us with the street address and the owner's name.
How can my property be served by sewer?
First you should determine whether your property is within a sewer service area. If your property is within a sewer service area there are several factors involved, including;
If there is a sewer mainline nearby?
Is there a lateral from this mainline to your property?
If "No" is the answer to either of these questions triggers the need for a plan check, which could be a simple review of a hand drawn site plan, or a thorough review of engineered plans.
In addition, the following questions must be answered;
Is there a gravity flow to the mainline? If not, you will need a pumping system.
If there is an existing septic tank, it must be destroyed. This requires a Septic Tank Destruction Permit from Planning & Zoning.
What permits do I need to connect a single family residence to public sewer?
Under normal circumstances you will need a sewer permit and an encroachment permit. Fees will be charged per the current fee schedule.
Does the city sewer department install my sewer line?
No. Installation is your responsibility of your service line. The city will make the tap into the sewer main and install the clean-out at the property line during a new installation.
Should I have sewer clean-outs installed?
Yes, you need one located just outside your home where the sewer enters and one at the right of way. On longer services it is wise to install more as you go. Your plumber can assist you with this task.
Who pays for connecting my property to sewer?
It is your responsibility to pay for all permits, sewer work, inspection fees, connection fees and service charges.
Do I have to hire a licensed contractor to connect my sewer?
A licensed, bonded contractor with current insurance is required for any work in a public right of way. We recommend the use of a licensed contractor if the trench depth is over 5' or if a grease trap or monitoring manhole is required.
What should I do if my sewer backs up?
Contact the City of Thomasville Utilities' Energy Control Center at 229-227-5499, 24 hours a day.
Are the sanitary and storm sewer lines separated or combined?
It is separated. The sanitary system generally travels along the center of the roadway and the storm sewer system generally runs approximately along the curb line of the roadway.
What is a sewer tap?
The sewer tap is the physical connection point where the homeowner's sewer service line connects to the city municipal sewer line.
What is a sewer service line?
The service line is the sewer constructed by private owners for private use on their properties. In other words, the service line serves a single user, not the community. The service line connects your home to the city sewer. The maintenance and repair of the entire service line is the property owner's responsibility.
What should a customer do when a sewage backup occurs in the home/yard, etc?
If you experience a sewer problem, please call the City of Thomasville Utilities' Energy Control Center at 229-227-5499 (24 hrs a day) if you feel that it is a problem with the city sewage system. If the problem is on the customer’s service, then you should call your plumber.
What is municipal sewage
Municipal sewage includes sewage collected from residences, public buildings, industries and commercial establishments. Municipal sewage is conveyed to a wastewater treatment facility.
What is a sanitary sewer system?
The sanitary sewer system includes all public structures (pipes, lift stations, sewer lines and manholes) in the wastewater collection system designed to convey municipal sewage to a wastewater treatment facility. If a pipe conveys water which needs to be treated, it is a sanitary sewer.
What causes the blockage in my sewer?
There are three main causes for pipes and sewer blockages and while some are simple to detect and easy to prevent, some are hidden and can hardly ever be detected before the damage occurs.
1. Solid Flushes
the most common cause of sewage backup is a blockage of the lateral service pipe between the home and the city main. This is usually caused by solid objects, accidentally flushed down a household drain.
In home and office plumbing systems, the main cause is grease accumulation, hair, dirt, or solid materials, such as disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, broken dishware, garbage, and debris that are too large for wastewater pipes to handle.
This problem is usually a local problem and when you experience it, only water from your home will be backing up and the amount of backup will depend on the amount of water you are using. If you turn off the water, they will slowly drain but the problem is likely to return as you turn on the water again.
2. Structural Defects
Different structural defects can develop overtime and eventually cause a major damage to the system, leading to a serious overflow that will require a complete reconstruction of sewer lines.
Structural defects happen due to system deterioration in both pipes and manholes. These defects include problems with sewer service lines such as pipe collapse, sags in the line, cracks, holes, protruding laterals, misaligned pipe, and offset joints.
3. Root infiltration
Tree roots are a major cause of backups. Tree roots can enter the service pipe at joints and travel a long way, causing blockages along the way. Tree roots can also create structural defects when they crack and break pipes as they grow.
I need to have my sewer lateral repaired...do I need a permit?
Yes, a permit is required for all work done on sewer laterals, whether it is the initial installation, repairs, replacement, reconnection, or plugging of an abandoned lateral.
Where do I get a permit?
Permits can be obtained at the Planning & Zoning Office located at the corner of West Jackson Street and Victoria Place.
Who is responsible for obtaining a permit?
The property owner is responsible for obtaining a permit. Many contractors will apply for the permit for you as part of their service, as well as schedule the necessary inspection.
Where do I apply for new sewer service?
You can come to the Engineering Offices located at 411 West Jackson Street to apply for your new sewer taps. You will need to fill out some forms and pay the rates that are in effect at the time of application. (229-227-7009)