HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Northeast Missouri might be in a drought, but when it does rain, improper sump pump connections can make it flood.
It's particularly a problem in the hilly Surrey Hills neighborhood behind the Steamboat Bend Shopping Center in Hannibal.
If a sump pump is incorrectly installed, it can introduce water into the sanitary sewer system, causing the system to overload. This results in sanitary sewer overflow or backups into businesses and homes.
"It flows downstream and affects Surrey Hills and the Huck Finn Shopping Center," said Heath Hall, Hannibal Board of Public Works general manager. "The piping system has been overloaded on several occasions during rain events, causing basement backups and overflows. Basement backups cause private property damage and associated insurance claims."
Mathew Munzlinger, BPW utility planning and construction engineer, said improper sump pump connections can be traced back to the contractor.
"A lot of homeowners aren't even aware they're flooding their ?neighbor," Munzlinger said.
The BPW has been working on tackling the Surrey Hills sump pump problems for nearly a year now, and it recently said it's taking a different approach.
In September 2017, the utility hired Trekk Design Group from Kansas City to do testing and home inspections to identify whether sump pumps are connected to sanitary sewers. After performing smoke tests to identify where water is entering the sanitary sewer and ?investigating the sump pump connections, Trekk Design Group and BPW staff have been able to enter only about 30 out of 94 homes.
Homeowners are denying people entry into their homes to quickly check sump pump connections, BPW staff said at the utility's board meeting Aug. 21.
So, a new approach is in order.
Trekk Design Group staff now will concentrate more on the increased flows into the sanitary sewer during and after rains. By doing this, the company will identify areas in which there is a greater chance for sump pump connections or other sources of infiltration into the sewer pipes. Once the company narrows down which houses could have improper sump pump connections, BPW staff will make direct contact with homeowners in those areas and perform sump pump inspections.
"As (sources of sewer infiltration) are identified, we will begin making repairs to the city sewer system and notifying customers if there are private repair items to be made," Hall said.
Hannibal City Attorney James Lemon said homeowners can get fined up to $500 for having improper sump pump connections, but the BPW isn't taking anyone to municipal court over the issue.
Hall said if a homeowner has a sump pump connected to the sanitary sewer, he or she will be given 30 to 60 days to disconnect it. Then it will be inspected by the city's building inspector office.
Anyone with questions can call the BPW at 573-221-8050.