FAQs

1. What is I&I? 
2. What are the consequences of excessive I&I?
3. What’s being done about I&I in Dubuque?
4. What is the goal of this program?
5. What are potential causes of excessive I&I?
6. Why is this issue being addressed now?
7. Why are inspections mandatory?
8. What happens during the inspection?
9. How long does an inspection take? 
10. I don’t have a sump pump. Do I still need an inspection?
11. How do I schedule an inspection?
12. Can I fix my sump discharge before the inspection?
13. Am I responsible for the cost to correct a violation?
14. Will I need to hire someone to correct a violation? 
15. How much does it cost to correct a violation?
16. How long do I have to correct a violation?
17. What if I don’t call or email to arrange an inspection appointment?
18. Will my homeowners’ insurance premiums be reduced if I install a sump pump?
19. My neighbor’s water runs onto my property. What can I or the City do about this? 

1. What is I&I?
A. Inflow is a direct connection of “clear” water into the wastewater (sanitary sewer) collection system. Inflow is by far the larger problem of the two and occurs in direct proportion to rainfall. Inflow is usually traced to improperly installed sump pumps (used by many homeowners to keep groundwater out of basements), roof downspouts, and foundation drains that are illegally connected to the City’s sanitary sewer system. Sump pumps are also sometimes illegally connected to the sanitary sewer system via a hose leading from the sump to a laundry tub or floor drain.

Infiltration is an indirect connection of “clear” water to the wastewater (sanitary sewer) system. Infiltration occurs when groundwater seeps into sewer pipes through cracks, leaky joints or deteriorated manholes.

2. What are the consequences of excessive I&I? 
A. Property damage; regulatory actions; decreased customer (property owner) satisfaction; potential health risks; and increased treatment costs at the Water & Resource Recovery Center. For example, a single downspout illegally connected to the City’s sanitary sewer can lead to a sewer backup in the basement of a nearby home.

3. What’s being done about I&I in Dubuque?
A. The City Council has identified I&I as a high priority and have budgeted over $2 million dollars over the next five years to implement an education, inspection and repair program designed to reduce I&I. In addition to home inspections, the City will continue to thoroughly inspect and repair manholes and sewer lines in the streets to minimize I&I in the public portion of the sewer system.

4. What is the goal of this program?
A. The goal of this program is to remove clear water from the sanitary sewer collection system, which will reduce the potential for sanitary sewer backups, improve public health, and extend the life of the sanitary sewer system and treatment plant, which can ultimately lead to lower taxpayer costs.

5. What are potential causes of excessive I&I?
A. Improperly installed rain downspouts; sump pumps loading dock drains; stairwell drains; internal roof drains; and yard drains.

6. Why is this issue being addressed now?
A. The City has agreed to investigate, identify, and correct sources of I&I over the next five years as part of a settlement with the US Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, studies have found that it is cheaper to eliminate sources of I&I rather than transport it to the wastewater plant and treat it. Sump pump inspection programs are typically the most cost-effective method to reduce I&I in the sanitary sewer system.

7. Why are inspections mandatory?
A. State law and City ordinance require sump pumps, foundation drains, and roof downspouts to be connected directly to a storm sewer or onto the ground, not to the sanitary sewer system.

8. What happens during the inspection?
A. An adult (age 18 or over) must be present for the inspection. A City inspector will look at sump pumps, foundation drains, roof downspouts, and site grading. Photos are taken only with the occupant’s permission, and the occupant must sign upon completion of the inspection.

9. How long does an inspection take?
A. Inspections are typically completed in less than 15 minutes, with many less than 5 minutes.

10. I don’t have a sump pump. Do I still need an inspection?
A. Yes, all properties will be inspected regardless of whether a sump pump is present.

11. How do I schedule an inspection? 
A. You will receive a letter when your neighborhood is scheduled for inspections. The letter will instruct you to call the City’s I&I Hotline at 563-690-6113 or email. You may also schedule an inspection appointment online by clicking here. Inspections will be conducted Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

12. Can I fix my sump discharge before the inspection?
A. Yes, getting clear water out of the sanitary system is the goal of this program! Property owners are encouraged to resolve any violations before their inspection. The property must still be inspected, however.

13. Am I responsible for the cost to correct a violation?
A. Yes, it is the responsibility of the property owner to repair the violation.

14. Will I need to hire someone to correct a violation?
A. It depends on the nature of the violation. While most inflow removal projects are easy enough for a do-it-yourselfer to complete some may be more complicated (driveway and stairway drains) and may require a permit and a licensed contractor. For more information on addressing these issues, call the Engineering Department at (563) 589-4270.

15. How much does it cost to correct a violation?
A. It depends on the nature/severity of the violation, but here are some ESTIMATES:
Sump pumps - $10 per foot of new pipe; driveway, stairway, and area drains - $30 per foot of new pipe; and downspout disconnection - $25 each.

For roof downspout issues, property owners are also encouraged to consider connectionsto rain barrels or rain gardens. For more information on these options, please visit www.cityofdubuque.org/rainbarrels.

16. How long do I have to correct a violation?
A. The property owner will have 30 days to correct a violation from the date of the notification. If the property owner does not schedule a re-inspection within 30 days, the City will obtain an administrative search warrant to authorize the re-inspection. The costs to obtain such warrant will be added onto the sanitary sewer bills of any property that does not comply with the ordinance.

17. What if I don’t call or email to arrange an inspection appointment?
A. The City will contact all property owners in the areas scheduled for inspections to request an appointment for an inspection. If the property owner does not schedule an appointment, the City will obtain an administrative search warrant to authorize the inspection. The costs to obtain such warrant will be added onto the sanitary sewer bills of any property that does not comply with the ordinance.

18. Will my homeowners’ insurance premiums be reduced if I install a sump pump?
A. This is up to the individual insurance policy. Please contact your insurance agent to find out more.

19. My neighbor’s water runs onto my property. What can I or the City do about this?
A. This is a private issue between you and your neighbor. If you need assistance with mediating the problem, contact the Dubuque Dispute Resolution Center at (563) 589-4395.