- What is the Athens sewer moratorium?
- Why is my sewer bill higher than my water bill?
- What is the availability charge?
- What causes wastewater to back up into my house when it rains?
- How do you treat wastewater and return it to the environment?
- Can I tour a wastewater treatment plant?
- If your home has a Grinder Pump
What is the Athens sewer moratorium?
By definition, a moratorium is an authorized suspension of some
activity. In the case of the sewer moratorium in Athens, at the direction of
the State of Tennessee, AUB must comply with very stringent guidelines
regarding any new sewer connections. The State mandate, called an Agreed
Order, is aimed at minimizing the amount of untreated water that must
bypass our collection and treatment process during, for instance, a heavy
rainfall. The sewer lines, especially individual service lines going to
homes, in the AUB area are fairly old. Many have cracks due to age and
tree roots that have wrapped around the pipes. These cracks allow storm
water and groundwater to inundate the sewer system, which overloads our
pipes and our treatment plant. If the overload is heavy enough, not all
of the water can be handled, so some must bypass the treatment process.
This is what the moratorium is intended to minimize. By and large, unless
a septic tank at a location is failing, AUB cannot connect any new sewer
services under the moratorium's conditions. However, some exceptions do
apply. AUB is continually working to fix old pipes and sewer lines. As
we fix and replace old pipes, we are able to add new services per the
Why is my sewer bill higher than my
Simply put, treating wastewater is much more expensive than
treating drinking water. Your wastewater bill amount is determined by
the amount of water that you use. The reasoning is that water you use
at home generally goes to an AUB wastewater treatment plant. Exceptions
would be watering a garden, washing a car, and so forth. But the vast
majority of residential water used ends up at a treatment plant.
Calculating wastewater billing based on water usage is standard to the
water utilities industry. To meter wastewater is even more expensive.
The solids in wastewater will not pass through a meter unless pretreatment
of the wastewater (such as grinding and liquefying) is performed before
it goes through the meter.
What is the availability charge?
AUB has a cost associated with building and maintaining the
infrastructure of our utility systems. Regardless of the amount of
electricity, natural gas or water sold, there are fixed operating
costs incurred by AUB each month. The availability charge helps
recover a portion of these fixed costs. For instance, your mortgage,
rent, insurance, etc., are costs that remain fixed month to month
even if your income changes. Some of AUBs fixed costs include:
- Maintaining the wastewater collection system, pump system and treatment facilites
- Maintenance of lines and poles, pipes and facilities
- Interstate natural gas pipeline demand charges
- Natural gas storage facility reservation charges
- Safety and Inspection Programs for Customers
What causes wastewater to back
up into my house when it rains?
This is usually caused by a partial blockage in the sewer line.
Paper towels, for instance, are the worst culprits when it comes to blocked
lines, especially on or near the customer's connection to the AUB wastewater
How do you treat wastewater and return it
to the environment?
for a movie on how AUB treats wastewater. For more info on
water and the environment, check out the
Water Environment Federation.
After traveling through the collection lines and reaching the
treatment plant, the wastewater runs through a bar screen-a large metal
rack with rods placed every few inches-to remove large items such as trash,
plastic, rags, sticks, etc. Next, the water flows very slowly through
settling tanks where floating material such as oil and grease are skimmed
off and where solids settle to the bottom. These solids form what is
called primary sludge, which, along with the oil and grease, is pumped
to a solids treatment process. At this point, the water still contains some
solids that must be removed. It then is sent through a secondary, aerated
treatment process involving microorganisms. The microorganisms use the
remaining solids as their food supply. These microorganisms eventually
settle to the bottom as well, as they move through large basins called
clarifiers. Some of these are circulated back through the process to
continue their cleaning work, while others are simply removed as the
colony of organisms grows. (Solids that are removed after the primary
and secondary treatment phases go through a solids digestion process,
where they are heated in the presence of still other biological organisms.
After digestion takes place, the remaining material can be reused beneficially,
such as to condition and fertilize agricultural soil.) As for the clarified
water, it travels from secondary treatment through tanks or channels where
either chlorine, ultraviolet light, or a combination of both, are used for
disinfection. The clean, disinfected water can now be returned to the
Can I tour a wastewater treatment plant?
Yes. AUB is happy to provide tours to individuals and
groups. To arrange a tour, just call us at 745-4501 and tell the
person you speak with that you would like to learn more about our
processes by taking a tour.