Q: If I sign the petition for sewers, do I have to connect to the sewer system?
A: No. You can decide if and when you would like to connect.
Q: What are low pressure sewers?
A: Low pressure sewers are sewer systems where each individual home has its own grinder pump unit which pumps into a pressurized system, which in turn, flows into a nearby conventional gravity sewer system.
Q: Why can’t we have regular gravity sewers?
A: Gravity sewers are not suitable for most lake communities. Low pressure sewers were designed to be used in lake communities.
Q: Can sewage be pumped into my house from the main line?
A: This is very unlikely as there are two check valves in the system between the main and the house to prevent this from happening.
Q: If the sewer district is created, is there any way to have the district creation documents require that Gardner Lake residents have a vote on any future annexation proposed by Gardner?
A: No. Current state statutes do not allow Gardner Lake residents a right to vote on future annexation proposals by the City of Gardner and the sewer creation documents cannot require it.
Q: Is the grinder pump unit (GPU) noisy enough to be heard?
A: No. The GPU is very quiet and can’t be heard unless you stand directly over it. Even then, it is very quiet.
Q: Which portion of the system is my responsibility?
A: The four inch service line that goes from the home to the grinder pump unit is the responsibility of the homeowner. The pump, control panel, discharge line, and main line are all maintained by Johnson County Wastewater.
Q: Must I pay for maintenance or replacement of the pump?
A: No. There is no separate charge for this service. Johnson County Wastewater pays for normal maintenance and replacement of the grinder pumps. Funds for this are collected with the bi-monthly user charges paid by all Johnson County Wastewater customers.
Q: How reliable are low pressure sewers?
A: This is a very reliable technology that has been used widely for over 30 years. Johnson County Wastewater has around 350 pumps in use today, dating back to 1998. Based on this experience, on average, a home with a grinder pump will have a maintenance call once every five years. Johnson County Wastewater's maintenance provider typically responds within two hours on every call and will restore service very quickly once they arrive.
Q: Whom should I call if there is a problem with my grinder pump unit?
A: Every control panel displays the 24 hour service phone number of our maintenance provider. Currently, every year Johnson County Wastewater sends out a letter and refrigerator magnet with the maintenance number listed.
Q: How do I silence my alarm once it has activated?
A: There is a button on the bottom of each control panel. Once you push it, the audible alarm will stop. However, the visual alarm will stay lit.
Q: What happens if the electricity goes out?
A: First, you need to reduce water use as much as possible because there is limited storage in the pump unit, and if that storage is exceeded, the sewage will back up into your house. If the power is out for more than four hours, please call the 24 hour service phone number and a technician will be sent to hook a generator to your pump to pump it down. The technician can pump down the system twice a day, but due to limited storage in the pump unit, they are only pumping out about 30 gallons at a time. So, you should reduce water use as much as possible.
Q: How much electricity does the grinder pump unit take to operate?
A: According to the manufacturer, it takes the same amount of electricity to run a 40 watt light bulb 24 hours a day, or about $28 per year.
Q: What is the required capacity of the electrical circuit to accommodate the GPU?
A: 240 volts, and 20-30 amps. It may be necessary, at the homeowner’s expense, to upgrade to a 100 amp service if the existing service is less than 100 amp.
Q: Will the streets be repaired if the sewer line cuts through them?
A: Yes. Under the construction contract, the contractor must repair the roads, where they are damaged by the construction work, back to their original state.
Q: Where will the main lines be installed?
A: Generally, the mains are installed parallel to streets in street right-of-way, but not in the streets, except at locations where the main crosses the street.
Q: If the sewers are installed and my septic system/holding tank is failing, will I have to connect to the existing sewers?
A: Yes. If there is a major problem with your septic system or holding tank, you will be required to hook to the existing sewer system at that time in accordance with the Johnson County Environmental Code under the jurisdiction of the Johnson County Health and Environment Department.
Q: Our home has a separate grey water (clothes or dishwater) discharge. Will these flows be directed to the sanitary sewer system?
A: Yes. If you decide to connect to the sewer system once the main lines are in, you will be required to reroute all wastewater to the grinder pump unit at that time.
Q: If I sell my house, must I have an inspection of my septic system?
A: Yes. Under county code requirements, every time a house changes ownership in the unincorporated area of Johnson County, the septic system must be inspected by the Johnson County Health and Environment Department.
Q: What happens if the Health and Environment Department finds a problem with the septic system?
A: If it is a minor problem, like a missing baffle or tee in the tank, it can be fixed without major expense. However, if there is sewage surfacing or a cracked tank, then a holding tank will be required if the property is within 200 feet of the lake. Also, if a sewer is available, the property owner will have to connect at that time.
Q: What happens if the cost of the project is greater than what is budgeted for the project?
A: Prior to the initiation of construction, if it is determined the project cost exceeds the budget cost by more than 10 percent, all property owners in the district will be notified of a public hearing to reconsider the project. After the hearing, the Board of County Commissioners will determine whether to complete the project. If the Board does not authorize completion of the project, any costs for engineering, right-of-way acquisition, etc. incurred, will be assessed to the properties in the district. If the Board authorizes completion of the project, property owners will be assessed the higher costs.
Q: How much does the grinder pump unit cost?
A: Currently, these pumps cost around $3,500 each. The total amount of an installed unit is approximately $7,500 to $8,500. This is a cost financed by the homeowner, not Johnson County Wastewater.
Q: How much will I have to pay if the sewer system is approved?
A: Every assessed lot would pay an estimated lump sum amount of $2,148. You can also choose to have this cost put on your tax bill over a 20-year period at an estimated 2.75 percent interest rate. The resulting estimated amount would be $141 per year for 20 years. If the final cost of the project is more or less than these estimates, you will be assessed the actual costs.