Informing the Public

In service industries, it is important to practice good customer service. Equally important is the need to communicate with the people affected by your service. One of the worst things that can happen is for a person affected by your services to encounter a big surprise due to being kept out of the loop. In relation to the wastewater industry, the average person has no idea what a collection system operator does – that is, if the person even knows collection system operators exist. The majority of the public simply know that these people work for the city. Their function, purpose and worth are quite often overlooked until they are called to a person’s doorstep to fix a problem.

A good approach that collection system personnel can utilize is to introduce themselves to the public. Offering information on what they do, announcing when they will be doing planned work in neighborhoods, informing the public on tips that can help maintain the collection system and help the wastewater treatment process are all ways that collection system operators can harness public knowledge and favor. There are several pieces of information that the public needs to know to help do its part in managing the collection system. These are listed in categories below.

Dos and Don’ts to Keep Your Private Wastewater Collection in Good Flow

  • Do NOT pour grease down the drain or down your garbage disposal.
  • Do put cooking oil and grease in a can or container to solidify and dispose of in the garbage.

Things to Know If You Live by a Manhole 

Inform residents that it is possible to have a city manhole on their property, even if they are unaware of it. Throughout the city, emergency and regular maintenance work is performed during all hours of the day and sometimes at night. Inform residents about afterhours policies and practices that may include wastewater maintenance crews needing access to properties in order to check a manhole and evaluate a wastewater problem that either the property owner or a neighbor may be having. These emergency repairs are done at all hours of the day. There may be occasions when a wastewater maintenance crew will be in your basement performing this necessary work. In some cases, the problem may be occurring at a neighbor’s home, but access to clear a stoppage is at the manhole. Please note that in some instances, the truck may be parked in a different location as the workers will have to follow the line to locate the specific problem area and utilize the manhole at the problem location.

Also, it is a good idea to inform customers of dos and don’ts when they have problems. If the residents follow the tips that you provide them, it could make your job as an operator simpler.

What to Do If You Have a Problem

  1. If your drain doesn’t work, check to see if it’s one drain or the whole house.
  2. If it’s just one drain, unstop it yourself or call a plumber.
  3. Do not use multiple drain cleaners in an attempt to unstop the line. If someone has to snake the line, this could pose a serious threat to the person fixing the problem.
  4. If the entire house is affected, check to see if you have a clean-out at the property line.
  5. If so, call a dispatch office, and a city crew will respond.
  6. If you do not have a clean-out, check with your next door neighbors to determine if they are experiencing a problem.
  7. The city will respond and check the main line if we receive calls from multiple customer locations on the same main reporting loss of service.
  8. If you don’t have a clean-out at the property line and the neighbors don’t seem to have a problem or if you can’t contact them, call a plumber.
  9. If the plumber determines that the problem is in the vicinity of the property line or on city property, the plumber should call our dispatch office and a crew will be sent.

Residents knowing the rules and procedures, as well as being familiar with some personnel and their functions, could be valuable in establishing a relationship with the public. You never know, you could be one flush away from ending up at their front door.

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