A change to sump pump rules and how to pay for residents' discharge into the city sewer system has been tabled for now, but city leaders are still looking for ways to curb the cost of sending additional wastewater to Fargo for treatment.
The city has long required homeowners to discharge their sump pumps outside from April 1 to Nov. 1. Pumps were allowed to discharge into the sewer system over the winter months, to avoid frozen pipes and other damage.
Last month, Public Works Director Matt Andvik suggested updating the city's policy to include a blanket fee for discharge, one that residents who do discharge outside could opt out of.
"Between Nov. 1 and April 1, you would you need a waiver to dump into the sanitary system," Andvik said.
Andvik said the change is needed now that West Fargo sends it wastewater to a regional treatment facility in Fargo. Sump pump discharge can account for up to 4 million gallons of extra waste water that West Fargo is paying for. Andvik said the city also does not have the staff to check all homes for compliance on sump pumps.
"It does put a stress on our system, and now that we send our wastewater to Fargo, it adds cost," he said. "The trick is how do you get the people currently in the program without making people who are not in the program or don't have sump pumps pay for it."
If the city passes the ordinance, which would goes into effect Nov. 1, it would have to communicate with the community so that those that can opt out are prepared to do so.
However, city commissioners were wary of installing a blanket fee on residents, even if those not using it could opt out.
"First off, I'm opposed to applying this to everybody and making people opt out. I think it would create a lot of chaos and confusion," Commissioner Eric Gjerdevig said.
"I do believe there are options out there. Table this and come back within two to three options for us to choose from," Commissioner Mark Simmons said Monday, April 3.
Andvik agreed to continue working on an ordinance that could help cover the additional cost without costing all residents more down the road.
"In the end if the people that are using it aren't paying for it, everyone will end up paying for it in a rate increase," Andvik said