DPW Frequently Asked Questions
What is the township policy regarding snow removal?
The township does not plow until we receive 4 inches of snow. We try to begin plowing as soon as the snowfall ends. If forecasts indicate a very heavy accumulation we may start during the storm and make more than one pass through the township. It takes approximately 12 hours to plow the entire township one time. Be patient, we will be working as fast as we can. If your street has not been plowed 24 hours after the snowfall ends call the D.P.W. office.
What do I do if the township breaks my mailbox while plowing snow?
When plowing snow we attempt to get as close to the curb as we can. So it is not unusual to have some damaged mailboxes. If we break it we will fix it. If your mailbox was broken by us, call the township office and report it. The day after we complete the snow removal we will begin making repairs. In some cases we may have to make a temporary repair, which will allow you to receive your mail, and come back and complete the repair in the spring. If your mail box is repairable the Township will repair it but if the mail box is beyond repair it will be replaced with a standard mail box and a standard pole.
What if the snowplows damage my yard?
Call the township office and report the damage. We will send someone out to investigate the complaint. We will repair the damage but it will probably be spring before we are able to make any serious repairs.
I had a sewer back up during a recent rainstorm. What should I do?
- Call the Township immediately! During normal business hours, Monday – Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm, the number is 810-424-2640. After hours call 810-424-2611 (Township Police Department dispatch desk operated 24/7). Backed up sanitary sewer lines, line breaks, sewage odors and overflowing manholes are considered an emergency. On-call DPW personnel will be contacted to respond to the call. If the blockage is in the sanitary sewer main line, we will fix it as quickly as possible and keep you informed about what is being done.
- If the sewer main is found to be clear, it is the responsibility of the property owner to call a plumber or sewer/drain cleaning service to correct the problem. The property owner is responsible for maintaining adequate flow to and through the sewer lateral from the property structure and into the sewer main.
How should I go about having my basement cleaned after a sanitary sewer backup?
- Hire a cleaning service or follow the suggestions below.
- If floodwaters or sewage fill your basement, you MUST clean properly to prevent you and your family from becoming sick or injured. Do Not bring children into the flooded area during clean up! Use protective clothing including boots, goggles and gloves.
- The following are suggestions on how to clean up a flood or sewage problem.
- Drain all floodwaters and/or sewage by natural draining or pumping.
- Remove dirt, soil and debris from surfaces that came in contact with floodwaters.
- Wash down all walls, floors and surfaces that the floodwater or sewage touched with clean, warm or hot water and a low suds detergent.
- Rinse again with warm or hot water.
- Sanitize by rinsing walls, floors and surfaces.
- Air the area by opening windows or using fans.
- Prevent tracking flood debris and sewage into clean areas.
- Contact DPW for additional advise as necessary
How do I pay for the clean up?
- Many homeowners' insurance policies exclude damage resulting from sewer backups. However, some insurance companies do provide sewer backup coverage. If you are concerned about the possibility of a sewer backup and want to ensure that you are covered, DPW urges you to check with your home insurer regarding the availability of sewer backup insurance.
- Public Act 170 of 1964, as amended by Public Act 222 of 2001, requires that if you are seeking compensation for personal injury or property damage, you must show that the sewage disposal system had a defect; that the appropriate government agency knew, or reasonably should have known, about the defect; that the defect was not remedied by the government agency in a reasonable time; that the property damage or personal injury resulted because of the defect; and that you own and have related the value of the damaged personal property.
- If any of the damaged property is personal property, reasonable proof of ownership and the value of the damaged personal property. Reasonable proof may include testimony or records documenting the ownership, purchase price, or value of the property, or photographic or similar evidence showing the value of the property.
- If you contacted the Township in regards to a sewer problem at your residence, the Township will send out a claim form even though the Township may not be responsible for your problem so that you can provide proper notice to the Township of a claim for damages as a result of a sewer backup. The completed claim notice must be mailed to the Charter Township of Grand Blanc P.O. Box 1833, Grand Blanc, Michigan 48480-0057. Failure to provide the required notice may prevent recovery of damages.
I have a problem in the sanitary sewer service lead (lateral). Whom do I call for help?
- You will need to call a plumber or sewer/drain cleaning service. Check your phone directory. DPW cannot make a recommendation. It may be in your best interest to obtain several estimates.
- REMEMBER TO CALL DPW FIRST before calling a plumber. We will check the sanitary sewer main line and inform you of our findings. If the problem is not in the main line sanitary sewer, you will be advised to contact a plumber or sewer/drain cleaning service.
What is a sanitary sewer service lead (lateral)?
A sanitary sewer lateral or house lateral is the pipeline between the sanitary sewer main, usually located in the street, and the house/building.
A. The sewer lateral is owned and maintained by the property owner including any part, which may extend into the street or public right of way.
What is connected to this sanitary sewer service lead (lateral)?
All of the plumbing fixtures in your building are connected to this system through a series of pipes behind the walls and under the floors. This includes: toilets, showers, bathtubs, sinks, washing machines and floor drains.
What might have caused the sanitary sewer to back up?
More often than not, the cause of a backup in your lateral is from items that the line is not meant to handle, such as kid's toys, underwear, towels, diapers, paper products (other than toilet paper), keys and even false teeth. What you flush down the toilet may not affect you, but it might cause problems for your neighbors! Another possible cause would be roots in your lateral. The sewer lateral is the responsibility of the owner of the property from the house to the street.
What can I do to prevent a sanitary sewer backup?
- The property owner can do many things to prevent the lateral from backing up. Remember too, that these very same things can help to prevent backups in the sanitary sewer main as well. If everyone would be careful about how they dispose of certain products, our systems would be a great deal more efficient, cause fewer backups, cost us all less money, and prevent a lot of misery.
- Grease: Cooking oil should be poured into a heat-resistant container and disposed of, after it cools off, in the garbage, not the drain. Some people assume that washing grease down the drain with hot water is satisfactory. This grease goes down the drain, cools off, and solidifies either in the drain, the property owner’s line, or in the main sewer. When this happens, the line constricts, and eventually clogs.
- Paper Products: Paper towels, disposable and cloth diapers and feminine products cause a great deal of problems in the property owner's lateral as well as in the sewer main. These products do not deteriorate quickly, as does bathroom tissue. They become lodged in portions of the lateral/main, causing a sewer backup. These products should be disposed in the garbage.
- Roots: Shrubs and trees, seeking moisture, will make their way into sewer line cracks. These roots can cause extensive damage. They may start out small, getting into a small crack in the pipe; but as the tree or shrub continues to grow, so does the root. After time, this causes your sewer line to break, which in turn allows debris to hang up in the line, thus causing a back up. One way to prevent roots from entering your line is to replace your line and tap with new plastic pipe. The other alternative is to be careful about planting greenery around your sewer line. If you have continuing problems with tree roots in your lateral, you may have to have them cut periodically. If you have a plumber clean roots out of your lead, please call DPW so that we can clean the sewer main of the debris.
- Sewer Odor: Another concern that property owners have is that they can smell sewer odors inside their home or building. There are many ways to prevent this from occurring. Under each drain in your plumbing system, there is a "P-trap". If there is water in this fitting, odor or gases from the sewer cannot enter through the drain from either the property owner's lateral or the sewer main. Periodically, check to make sure that unused floor drains; sinks, etc have water in the "P-trap". Another way to prevent sewer odor is to ensure that the vents, which are located on your roof, are free from bird nests, leaves, etc. When these vents are clear, the sewer odors will escape through these vents.
- Illegal Plumbing Connections: DO NOT connect French drains, sump pumps and other flood control systems to your sanitary sewer. It is illegal, and debris and silt will clog your line. Consult a plumber to correct any illegal connections.
- Needles: Unfortunately, some people dispose of hypodermic needles in the sewer system. The presence of these needles in the wastewater collection system presents special and possible deadly problems for wastewater collection and wastewater treatment employees. PLEASE DO NOT FLUSH NEEDLES. The proper method of disposal is to re-cap the needle and put it into a "sharps container". (This could be any rigid plastic container such as a bleach bottle...no milk bottles please.) When it is full, tape the container securely, and call your local pharmacy for advice on proper disposal methods. PLEASE DO NOT FLUSH THEM OR THROW THEM INTO THE GARBAGE!
- Install a Backwater Prevention Valve: A backwater valve can prevent or greatly reduce the possibility of a sewer backup. A backwater valve is a fixture installed into a sewer line, and sometimes into a drain line, in the basement of your building to prevent sewer backflows. A properly installed and maintained backwater valve works on a one-way system, sewage can go out, but cannot come back in. Property owners are responsible for the installation and maintenance of backwater valves. The cost to install one is dependent upon the type of plumbing in your home and the difficulty of installation. A qualified plumber can assist you in determining your needs.
What is a backflow or backwater valve?
- Backflow valves are designed to block drainpipes temporarily and prevent flow into the house. They are available in a variety of designs. A "gate" backflow valve provides a strong seal, but must be operated by hand. The effectiveness of a gate valve will depend on how much warning you have of impending flooding.
- A "flap" or "check" valve opens to allow flow out of the house but closes when the flow reverses, so the sewer water can't flow back up into the pipes. These valves operate automatically, so the homeowner does not have to be around if flooding occurs, but do not provide as strong a seal as a gate valve.
- Points to keep in mind:
Changes to the plumbing in your house must be done by a licensed plumber or contractor, who will ensure that the work is done correctly and according to all applicable codes. This is important for your safety.
Some valves incorporate the advantages of both flap and gate valves into a single design. Your plumber or contractor can advise you on the relative advantages and disadvantages of the various types of backflow valves.
Valves should be installed on all pipes that leave the house or that are connected to equipment that is below the potential flood level. Valves may be needed on washing machine drain lines, laundry sinks, fuel oil lines, rain downspouts and sump pumps, as well as sewer/septic connections.
If you have a sump pump, it may be connected to underground drain lines, which may be difficult to seal off.
I have a septic field and would like to connect to public sanitary sewer lines. How can I do that?
- Most parcels within the Township have access to the public sanitary sewer line. For those that don’t several options are available to extend the public line to a convenient location near the property.
- Private construction - The property owner hires an engineer and contractor to draw up and construct a public sewer line to serve one or more parcels of land. The second is through a special assessment district. Contact the Township DPS for additional information.
- Special Assessment District (SAD) – The property owner(s) petitions the Township to extend the sanitary sewer. These petitions are presented to the Township Board through a series of public hearings and if approved the project proceeds. The DPW would then retain the services to have the sewer extension designed and constructed. Once completed, all costs associated with the design and construction is assessed to the benefiting property owners. Contact the Township DPS for additional information.
I have a private well. Do I have to connect to the Township water supply?
The Grand Blanc Township public water supply serves more than 18,000 residents in our community. These residents are delivered high quality drinking water from the Grand Blanc Township water distribution system which ultimately comes from the Genesee County Drain Commission water treatment plant and Karegnondi Water Authority intake.
Many areas of the Township are not served by Township water and must drill water wells to draw water from. This is done by private well drilling companies and permitted by the Genesee County Health Department. The Township DPW cannot service your well and does not have a list of recommended well drillers.
In some cases, there are areas where residents have a well and municipal water is available. In this case, these homes are able to keep their well as a water source even if it experiences a major failure. It is not mandatory for a home to connect to our water supply if they are on an existing well. Newly built homes that have public water available to them must connect to the public water supply and may not drill a well.
Once a home is connected to our water; it may not disconnect to drill a new well. We build our water system based on capacity and demand. If we lose customers and we no longer have the demand but still have the capacity, the water quality and efficiency of our system could drastically change.
If a home is connected to the public water supply and is disconnecting from a well, the well must be abandoned by a licensed well driller (please see Grand Blanc Township construction specifications for more details). In some instances, a private well that is no longer being used for domestic purposes (drinking, bathing, and washing) can be used for irrigation. This is upon approval of the Director of Public Works or his/her designee. The well will have to be removed from home completely and 100% contained outside of the home. This will require and initial and annual inspection by a Township Official.
Township water customers may install an irrigation well for watering lawns and flowerbeds. However, it must not enter the home at any point and be 100% contained outside of the home. This will require an initial and annual inspection by a Township Official.
Beginning January 1, 2016, any residential or commercial property which has 3 water/sewer units or more (A typical house is 1 unit) will not be allowed to drill a new well if they experience catastrophic failure. These customers must connect to the public water supply if the Director of Public Works or his/her designee determines that it is available. This is to promote public health and a constant and reliable source of water to our businesses and multiple unit residential communities and their customers.