Sanitary Sewer Operations

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Sanitary Sewer Diagram

Sanitary Sewer

When you wash dishes, take a shower, pour stuff down your kitchen sink, or flush your toilet that “wastewater” goes into the city’s Sanitary Sewer system. This system consists of over 226 miles of pipe and over 4800 manholes. This is separate from the Storm System that collects rainwater and drainage. This “wastewater” is conveyed to the Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority (WRA) for treatment. The WRA consists of 16 metro area municipalities, counties, and sewer districts.


Sewer Cleaning

Watch the Public Services Sewer Cleaning video for an explanation of sewer cleaning activities in West Des Moines.


Can't see the video? Check your version of flash and download Flash 10 if necessary. 

*DISCLAIMER: If you visit the Vimeo website through links in the video above you are voluntarily choosing to leave the City of West Des Moines website. Vimeo is an online video community. Some material, including advertising, may not be suitable for a general audience. The City of West Des Moines is not responsible for the content of external websites. The City of West Des Moines encourages you to view the embedded video on this page. However, if you choose to follow the link and visit Vimeo, where the video is hosted, you agree that the City of West Des Moines is not responsible for any content unrelated to the City of West Des Moines you may view there.

Sewer Rates

Monthly rates include both an availability charge and a charge based on water consumption. These charges are itemized on your Municipal Services bill sent by the West Des Moines Waterworks. Billing questions should be directed to the West Des Moines Waterworks 515-222-3460.

Special Fees

The City has established two Connection Fee Districts for the purpose of financing the extension of trunk sewers in these areas:

Connection Fee Districts (City Code Section 7-8C-14)

Southwest Area Fees (City Code Section 7-8C-14-1)

South Area Fees (City Code Section 7-8C-14-2)

Capital Charge

The City has established a Capital Charge for the purpose of financing improvements to trunk lines and treatment facilities.

Sewer Capital Charge (City Code Section 7-8C-11)

Charges for Residential Plats (City Code Section 7-8C-12)

Building Charges (City Code Section 7-8C-13)

Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG)

When these are put down the drain, they congeal and deposit in the pipes. FOG can block your drain, your neighbor’s drain, and the City’s collection lines, potentially becoming an environmental and public health risk. The WRA has implemented a program to control FOG from Food Service Establishments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sewer Gas:

Question: There is a sewer smell in my house

Answer: The source of the sewer gas can be plumbing fixtures whose traps have gone dry or have lost enough water that the water seal within the trap has broken. You would be surprised to discover that water can rapidly evaporate from toilets and the traps below tubs, floor drains and just about any fixture within a few months. A quick fix would be to pour some water in to the trap. Cracks in either plumbing drain lines or vents pipes are the other source of sewer gas leaks. If the crack is in a drain line, you often see an associated water leak.Vent pipe cracks are far more elusive. Sewer gas problems can also be caused by plumbing vent pipes that are clogged. This can happen in old homes where a cast iron vent pipe gets clogged by years of rust scale that falls off the inside of the pipe and clogs at a 90 degree bend in the pipe. Tennis balls, leaves, and all sorts of other debris can clog plumbing vent pipes.

Sewage backing up:

Question: Sewage is coming out of my basement floor drain.

Answer: If sewage is backing up from your basement floor drain, contact Public Services 515-222-3480. Public Services will send a crew to check if the City main is flowing freely. If it is, the problem is in your plumbing and you will have to get a plumber to fix it.

Sump Pump:

Question: My sump pump makes a big mess in my yard. Can I connect it to my sewer?

Answer: No, that is illegal and this practice can cause sewer mains to be overloaded and backup. However, the city does encourage you to connect your sump pump to the storm sewer system. If no storm sewer is available, the City has a program to construct storm sewers in areas where sump pumps are a problem. Contact Engineering Services 515-222-3475.

Convert from septic:

Question: I currently have a septic tank and would like to connect to the sewer.

Answer: First check if a sewer is available by looking at the City’s GIS website(See GIS Link).

Question: What will it cost?

Answer: Your cost will include:

- A contractor or plumber to do the work.

- The City’s Capital charge per dwelling unit, see link to City code above.

- If you are in a Connection Fee District, those charges will also apply. See link to Connection Fee Districts above. 





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