NYC Sewer Contractors Need Accurate Records Before Excavating

New Sewer & Water Mains, Opinion & Expertise, Water Line Replacement
March 28, 2013

by David Balkan

Construction worker

Sewer contractors in NYC depend upon a number of factors in order to perform work orders accurately and dig in the correct location. Most important among these factors is getting all available NYC DEP records before jackhammers break up the roadway and a backhoe starts to excavate.

A city sewer as built

The first NYC DEP record that sewer contractors typically request is called an as built. An as built shows a sewer map of a general area of a few blocks and indicates if indeed a city sewer exists on a block. It also indicates the type of city sewer. There are three types of NYC sewers. The three types of NYC sewers for house connections:

  1. Sanitary sewer: A sanitary sewer can only have sanitary house sewer lines connected to it. It is a violation for storm (rain water) to be disposed of in a sanitary sewer.
  2. Storm sewer: A storm line is meant to only dispose of rain water from a building, property, or catch basin. It is a violation for sanitary waste to be connected to this type of public drain.
  3. Combined sewer: A combined sewer is meant to dispose of both sanitary and storm water flow. Typically a house drain has two outlets from the building, one for storm and one for sanitary, that are combined at the property line before connecting to the  combined public sewer.

Why are the types of City sewers important?

public sewer
Inside of a city sewer

Connecting the wrong type of house drain to a city sewer is a violation and will lead to costly corrective work and a violation in the future. The DEP does do dye tests to verify the improper flow does not exists for house sewers. For instance of a public sewer does not exist for storm water then drywells must be built to retain the water on the property. These are also called retention tanks. Rain water is not permitted to flow from roof leader lines onto the ground when a building is designed.

Another example of a potential violation is if a sanitary sewer does not exist fronting a property. Sanitary water cannot be connected to a public storm drain and new building cannot be built with septic systems. It would be the owners responsibility to extend the closest city sanitary sewer so it fronts their property and a house connection would then be available.If a City sanitary sewer does not front a property the developer of the property is responsible to extend the public drain system at their own expense.

City sewer spur map

House sewer connections
Example of a spur map

A spur map is a more detailed record of the public sewer system. It typically shows a section of the system for about one city block or so, but sometimes less. It shows a detail of if and where available house connections are located. This is vital information when repair or replacement work is needed on a house drain. It gives direction to the plumbing contractor on where to excavate because frequently a house drain does not run in a straight line. It also can give other valuable information such as if two house share the same connection, or which roadway a house is connected to if it is a corner house fronting two roadways.A spur map from the NYC DEP record room is the most vital piece of information when repair or replacement work is needed on a house drain.

Are curb connections or risers present

Sewer Connection
NYC DEP riser diagram

Another very important piece of information usually indicated on an as built in addition to the location of a house sewer connection is the type of house connection available. If a curb connection is available that may mean that the roadway does not need to be opened in order to replace a sewer line of provide a new drain line. Curb connections are usually encased in concrete so they are very long-lasting and high quality connections.

Another type of house connection is called a riser. A riser is usually present of a City sewer when the depth of the system is greater than 13′. A riser is a vertical pipe directly on top of the city sewer to a depth of 12″. This saves great expense to a property owner when a new connection, sewer repair work, or complete replacement work is needed. Excavating to a depth greater than 13′ deep adds great expense to house sewer work. When riser connections are present drain like work becomes less costly. A city as built gives exact locations and depths if a riser already exists.

Was there a previous building located on the lot

When a property is being developed if a building previously existed can be very important information. If a building on the site was previously demolished that means that the house sewer plugged at the curb line. Water and sewer disconnections are required before demolition takes place. In many cases a plugged house drain can be reconnected and reused when a new building is erected. This typically saves $2,000.00 or so. But can save up to $10,000.00 depending on the project and the location. The NYC DEP can usually provide inspection reports from when the disconnections were done which include the exact location.Reconnecting to a previously disconnected house line can save a developer of a property thousands of dollars.

NYC sewer contractors need to do their due diligence

Taking the time to get DEP records will save time, money, and unnecessary aggravation when repair, replacement, or new house sewer connections are needed. All DEP records are available free of charge and only require some time and effort. The reward for that effort frequently is avoiding unneeded excavations in the wrong location or performing unnecessary work when an available connection or pipe may already exist.Spending a few minutes to get proper DEP records can save hours or even days of unnecessary work.

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David Balkan

David Balkan is the CEO of Balkan Sewer And Water Main, the largest and most trusted service in New York City. David is extremely active in various NYC plumber organizations being the Chairman of the Subsurface Committee in the Master Plumbers Council, and Vice President of the Subsurface Plumbers Association. In addition David’s expertise is respected by officials of New York City agencies such as the NYC DEP, NYC DOB, and the NYC DOT. He frequently provides valuable input on a variety of industry related matters.

Dave Balkan

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