Explore Durango
Click to Home

Go To Search
Today's Weather

Facts About Sewer
Facts about Sewer Backup Incidents

Information for Property Owners
Sewer backups are an unfortunate but common problem in cities and towns. Although municipal utility departments make every effort to prevent such incidents, they still may occur. The following information is offered to help property owners and residents understand why backups happen, how they can be prevented, and what steps citizens should take if a sewer backup affects their property. The following questions and answers may be helpful:

Why a Sewer Check Valve? 
A sewer check valve (backwater valve) is a one-way valve that permits waste water to flow out, yet automatically seals when sewer water attempts to enter the house system. We recommend that all property owners install a check valve to prevent a city main sewer backup from entering your sewer system.

What Causes a Sewer Backup?
Sanitary sewers flow by gravity so they generally follow the natural slope of the ground. The sewer mains that the city owns and maintains are generally four to twelve feet deep, with some being much deeper. Sanitary sewer backups can be caused by a number of factors. They usually involve sewer pipe blockages in either the city’s main sewer lines or in the private sewer service line with the property owner owns and maintains (sewer line between buildings and the city’s main sewer line). Causes of a backup may include pipe break or cracks due to tree roots, system deterioration, insufficient system capacity due to residential or commercial growth, or construction mishaps. In home and office plumbing systems a frequent cause is accumulation of grease, tree roots, hair, or other solid materials such as disposable diapers or sanitary napkins that are too large for the wastewater pipes to handle. Such materials may cause major backups in city lines as well as in residents’ private service lines. Another frequent cause of blockages within the city’s system is vandalism. Leaves, sticks, rocks, bricks and trash are sometimes found stuffed down manholes. We hope you will report observations of any such activity by calling 970-375-4801 to alert the sewer maintenance division and prevent an unfortunate backup from occurring.

How Could a Sewer Backup Affect Me?
If the backup occurs in the city maintained line, the wastewater will normally overflow out of the lowest possible opening. In some homes, especially those with basements or where the lowest level is even with the sewer lines, the overflowing wastewater may exit through the home’s lower drains and toilets.

What Should I Do If Sewage Backs Up Into My Home?
First, take action to protect people and valuable property:
  • Keeping in mind that ceramic plumbing fixtures such as toilets are fragile, quickly close all drain openings with stoppers or plugs. Tub, sink and floor drains may need additional weight to keep them sealed.
  • Don’t run any water down your drains until the blockage has been cleared.
  • A quick check with nearby neighbors will help determine if the backup appears to be widespread in your neighborhood. In this case, call the sewer maintenance division immediately at 970-375-4801.
  • Call a plumber if the problem is in your lateral service line.

If I Call the City, What Will They Do About a Sewer Backup Onto My Property?
City personnel will check for blockages in the main line. If found, the blockage will be immediately cleared.

If the main line is not blocked, you will be advised to call a plumbing service to check your service line. Maintenance and repair of the service line is the owner’s responsibility.

To minimize damage and negative health effects you should arrange for clean up of the property as soon as possible. There are qualified businesses that specialize in this type of clean up.

Is There Anything I Can Do To Prevent Sewage Backup Into My Home?   
Avoid putting grease down your garbage disposal or household drain. It will solidify, collect debris and accumulate in city lines or build up in your own sewer service line.

Never flush disposable diapers, sanitary napkins or paper towels down the toilet. They could plug up your drains and damage your plumbing system.
Consider whether the roots of large shrubs or trees near the line could invade and break your sewer pipe. It is a good idea to know the location of your lateral line. You can call the sewer maintenance division for assistance in locating your sewer service line.

If the lowest level of your home is below ground level you may want to consider installing a “check valve” in your sewer service line. This allows sewage to flow out from your house but not back into your house. If the city main ever plugs this will keep the sewage out of your house.

What Does the City of Durango Do To Prevent This Problem? 
Every attempt is made to prevent backups in the public wastewater system before they occur. We have maintenance crews that are devoted to inspecting and cleaning wastewater lines throughout the city on a regular schedule. 
Even with our maintenance schedule backups still occur beyond the city’s control. Most that do occur are confined to the sewage main pipeline rather than backing up into a home. 

How and Where Should I Report a Sewer Backup?
Emergency crews are on call 24 hours a day to assist you. In an emergency such as a sewer line backup contact the sewer maintenance division at 375-4801. If it is after business hours please call dispatch at 385-2900.

Contact Info
Utilities Department
105 Sawyer Dr.
Durango, CO 81303
Ph: (970) 375-4801
8am to 4pm
Contact Us

2016 Consumer Confidence Report
updated 08/08/2017

Cross Connection Control Program
105 Sawyer Dr.
Durango, CO 81303
Ph: (970) 375-4882
Contact CCCP

Southwest CO Reservoir Water Levels