Sanitary and Storm Sewer Services
in Indian Head Park
This page is for residents who have water and sewer services provided by the Village of Indian Head Park. For those residents who are serviced by the LaGrange Highlands Sanitary District, more information is available by calling (708) 246-5657.
If you encounter an emergency sanitary or storm sewer issue outside of regular business hours, please call the non-emergency Police Department number at (708) 246-4534.
If your emergency occurs during regular business hours please contact Ed Santen, Public Works Superintendent at (708) 246-3154.
Residents experiencing sewer line problems should call the Village Public Works Department immediately before calling a plumber or contractor. The blockage could be in the Village's sewer line, and the Public Works Department can help determine where the problem is. If the problem is in the private service line to the house, the resident could be advised of further action.
Please remember not to put any foreign objects into your drainage system at home, e.g., paper towels, diapers, sanitary products and rags. In addition, do not introduce paint, motor oil, antifreeze or other hazardous chemicals or products into your drainage. These materials can be dangerous and they cause backups in the sanitary sewer system.
The Sewer Division is responsible for flood control (creeks, public drainage ways, detention ponds, and storm sewers) and the sanitary sewer system (sanitary sewers) in the Village of Indian Head Park. Approximately 11 miles of sewer are maintained by the Sewer Division. All sewer backups are responded to by this Division. Maintenance consists of systematically cleaning all sewers; cleaning and maintaining inlets, manholes, and catch basins; and systematic inspection and cleaning of the open public drainage ways.
The primary responsibility of the Sewer System is to provide a safe and reliable means for transmission of waste water to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC), and a comparable system of storm water drains and conduits to carry surface water to the various major storm water routes away from the Village. (Primarily Flagg Creek.)
The Sewer Sytem is managed by the Director of Public Works and three technicians from the Public Works Department.
Parts of the sanitary sewer system in Indian Head Park were built in the 1950's when clay tile pipes were standard materials. The age of these pipes, along with the materials used can make them vulnerable to erosion, cracking, and root intrusion.
While the Village is working on upgrading the older pipes in the public portion of the system, homeowners are responsible for the sewer service line to their homes. The Village has engaged the services of its professional engineering firm, Strand Associates, to determine the full scope of maiantenance and repair work required. This analysis will be completed during the summer of 2016.
The Village has televised records of sewer line conditions updated every ten years for the portion of the Village served by our sewer and storm drain system. Please note that some sections of the Village are provided with sanitary sewer services by the LaGrange Highlands Sanitary District .If you have any questions regarding the Public Works Sewer System, please call (708) 246-1233.
Maintenance Repairs (Rodding, RootCutting, Spot Repair Or Replacement)
The sewer service line from your house generally does not fail at once. The condition that ultimately leads to a problem occurs over a long period of time. Deterioration of sewer pipe includes settling that create sags that can trap solid materials, cracking of the pipe itself and pipe joints that begin to leak. Tree roots can get into the pipe through the cracks and joints creating obstructions. The roots will also create stresses on the pipe further deteriorating it.
Groundwater will enter through the cracks and joints and over time more and more groundwater will enter as the pipe continues to deteriorate. This groundwater which increases when it rains could overload the entire sanitary sewer system resulting in sewer backups. Clay pipe which was commonly used before the mid1980’s is more susceptible to cracking and deterioration. More frequent cleaning and repairs to the sewer lines are needed the older the house and its sewer lines become.
1. Will the repair that is being proposed eliminate the cause of the problem or does it only address the effects of the problem? As an example, if root intrusion is causing a backup, the possible solutions will range from rodding (partial opening up of the lateral to restore some drainage), to root cutting (cutting of the roots from the full diameter of the pipe). In both cases the roots will eventually grow back. To eliminate root intrusion altogether the sewer service line would need to be replaced or lined. Each option has a different cost with different longterm effects.
2. How far up the service line will contractor rod or rootcut? There may be several spots where there are partial obstructions. The closest one may be opened up only to have another blockage in the near future. It is always best to have the entire service line cleaned to the sewer main. Some contractors may be reluctant to go all the way to the main for fear of getting their rodder or cutter stuck. Find out how far he actually went.
3. Occasionally the blockage cannot be cleared by rodding or root cutting and the service line must be dug up and a section of pipe replaced. If the service line is in bad shape, then replacement or lining may be necessary. These types of repairs need a permit from the village.
4. Older homes were generally built without outside cleanouts. The only access to the sewer line might be in the basement. As a result getting the rodder or cutter into the service line may be difficult. The installation of a cleanout located outside of the house will make future maintenance easier. You also won’t have a mess in the house from the rodding work.
Upgrading the Plumbing And Sewer System, BackCheck Valves or Overhead Plumbing
1. All homes built after 1972 have separate sump pumps for the foundation drainage system as well as overhead plumbing for the sewerage system. A separate foundation drainage system keeps the groundwater collected by the footing drains from entering and overloading the sanitary sewer system during a rain.
Overhead plumbing prevents sewer backups into the basement should the village sewer mains become overloaded or blocked. An older plumbing system can be upgraded to minimize or prevent sanitary sewer backups into the basement. These include back check valves or converting the plumbing system to the overhead type. Back check valves are generally easier and cheaper to install but they have some limitations. For one you cannot use any of the plumbing facilities in your home while it is in the closed position unless the system installed has the capability to pump around the closed valve.
2. Do you have footing drains that are tied into the sanitary sewer service? If you do then the basement may still flood once the valve closes as the footing drain water will be trapped and could back up. If so the footing drains will need to be separated out to a new sump pump pit or the type of valve used will have to be able to pump around the valve when closed. If you have a basement with no sump pump pit assume that you have the footing drains tied directly into your sewer service.
3. How much maintenance is required to keep the protection measure in operation? If a check valve is recommended to prevent sewer backups, you should realize that regular maintenance and exercising is needed to keep the improvement working as intended. Inspection and cleaning is recommended once a year.
4. Will the valve work automatically or will you have to be present to activate it? If the valve that is installed is manually operated, then someone needs to be present to shut the valve before the backup occurs.
5. Conversion to overhead plumbing upgrades your system to modern standards and offers the greatest measure of protection against backups. Any floor drains or plumbing facilities in your basement goes to a separate ejector pit that pumps it out of the house at a much higher elevation than your basement floor level. You can continue to use your inside plumbing facilities during a storm. The footing drains will need to be separated out to a separate sump pit unless they are already. This keeps excess water from overloading the sanitary sewer system.
Unfortunately, occasional basement flooding may occur for individual home owners. That old tree in your front or backyard may be the cause of your basement flooding. Trees are typically hydrophilic, and the roots from trees located near the sewer line often grow through small cracks in the mortar around the tile joint, ultimately growing to form large masses within the sewer pipe, creating an obstruction. As long as the sewer line is used regularly, the roots usually stop growing at a point which will still permit ordinary usage. Trouble occurs when a large object is flushed down the sewer and lodges against the roots or when there is an exceptionally heavy amount of rainfall and the roots prevent the water from flowing through the sewer as quickly as needed in order to prevent a backup.
This problem may be corrected by the following possible solutions. Ultimately one needs to consult with their licensed plumber and civil engineer to determine more specifically what options are most likely able to deal with the water problem(s) you are experiencing:
In many cases, periodic rodding is all that is needed to control root growth and reduce the likelihood of sewer backup. Rodding maybe needed as often as every six months or as infrequently as every few years, depending upon how fast the tree roots grow.
Sewer Pipe Replacement
The most effective (and most expensive) method of eliminating tree roots is to dig up old sewer pipe where the obstruction is located and replace it with new pipe. The good news is the sewer pipe has joints with an extremely tight seal which virtually eliminates the possibility of tree roots growing into the sewer line in the future.
When a heavy rainfall causes the quantity of storm water to exceed the capacity of the Village's sewer system, pressure builds up in the system and water can back up into unprotected basements. If your basement is affected by backups caused by surcharging in the system, there are several courses of action available to you.
Install a Floor Drain Standpipe
A standpipe installed in the floor drain will raise the overflow level. The standpipe is designed to hold back the water only if it would have flooded several inches deep. If the pressure builds to a higher point, it is better to let some of the water flow onto the floor in order to equalize the pressure, rather than taking a chance on having the sewer and floor broken. The standpipe may be left in place at all times if the floor drain is not needed.
It is NOT a good idea to plug the floor drain when the sewer surcharges and the flow begins to back up through the drain. If the drain is plugged, pressure in the piping under the floor may build up sufficiently to break the tiles and heave the basement floor.
Install A Backwater Valve
A mechanical valve or a check valve will help prevent basement flooding. A check valve that closes automatically when flow through the sewer line reverses may be installed either outside the house or inside the basement, depending on your specific situation. A mechanical valve is normally located outside the basement and must be opened or closed manually.
A Word of Caution:
Check valves installed in sewer lines sometimes become clogged with debris and fail to close completely. When this happens, the valve will slow down the flow of sewage but will not stop it completely. For this reason, a valve should not be depended upon completely, and the valve should always remain accessible for service and repair. Remember that when a valve is installed in a house sewer, the house plumbing cannot be used during a storm when the valve is closed to prevent basement flooding.
Install an Overhead Sewer System
An overhead sewer is a system in which all sewage from aboveground level flows by gravity to the Village sewer, but all sewage and storm water collected below grade in the basement must be pumped up to the house sewer at a connection near the basement ceiling. There are no direct connections between the main sewer system and the basement, so there is no way for the sewage to backup into the basement area.
Although an overhead system is very effective in eliminating basement backups, the plumbing charges required make it a costly solution. However, it is still a good choice for homeowners who have a substantial investment in finished basements or who have valuable equipment or storage items housed in the case.
One disadvantage of an overhead system is that the pumps used to force the water up from the basement level will not operate during a power outage, so overflow could occur if the power is out for an extended time. Even so, the overhead system in most cases is the most effective way to prevent basement flooding.
When excessive ground water is allowed to accumulate around the foundation of the house, water may seep into the basement through the basement floor and walls. Here are three of the most common problems which may cause water to build up around the foundation.
Most basements have a footing drain around the outside wall which is designed to collect ground water in the soil and keep it from seeping through cracks in the basement floor and walls. In older homes, the footing drain is connected directly to the house sanitary sewer. When a basement develops leaks in the floor or walls, it is often due to blockage or breakage of the footing drains. When the footing drains are not functioning properly, the ground water collects around the foundation of the house instead of draining into the sewer system.
If your basement is flooding due to problems with the footing drains, here are three possible solutions, none of which are inexpensive:
1. Disconnect the footing drains from the sanitary sewer and install a sump pump. Footing drains should not be connected to the sanitary sewer line by code.
2. Eliminate deep roots
3. Clean the footing drains
Basement floor and wall leaks can also be caused by excessive amounts of ground water collecting around the basement walls due to improper grading. It is extremely important that the ground around the foundation be sloped away from the house for several feet in order to prevent excessive amounts of water from accumulating in the soil next to the house.
If the downspouts connect with the house drain or sewer, basement flooding can occur when the underground connections become broken, causing the water to seep through the foundation in the vicinity of the break. Or if the downspout is emptying into a sewer which is clogged by tree roots or other obstruction, the sewer may back up into the basement. The earliest subdivision and individual homes built prior to Village incorporation of most likely to have such connections.
By code the downspouts should be disconnected, which will let the rain be absorbed into the ground instead of entering the house sewer. If rainwater from downspouts is being discharged onto the ground, be sure to use splash blocks or other means to direct the flow of water well away from the house foundation.
For some people that live on or near creeks, wetlands or other drainageways, these may seem as a handy place to get rid of yard wastes. After all it is no different than what grows there naturally. And eventually they will decay and fertilize the area. It is illegal to deposit any type of debris including branches, leaves, grass clippings or dirt into or adjacent to any creeks, ponds, wetlands detention basins, ditches or other areas that periodically collect and convey storm waters. This applies particularly onthe streets that parallel Flagg Creek, including Keokuk Road and Cochise Drive.
Besides being unsightly, they can cause obstructions that aggravate flooding. Materials left on the banks or shores will kill the natural vegetation under it resulting in soil erosion. Any person found guilty is subject to fines. Anyone seeing someone dumping anything in these areas should call our Police Department at 911.
Besides the above described problems, this dumping also seriously impairs water quality. The second phase of the federal“Clean Water Act” first passed in 1972 is underway. The goal is to make all the waterways in the United States fishable and swimable. Though not too many people may want to swim or fish in Salt or Buffalo Creeks, the water quality in these creeks affects the quality of the Des Plaines and Illinois Rivers into which they discharge. The focus of Phase 2 will be on polluted storm water runoff. The source of the pollution can be oils, chemicals and debris washed off of streets and parking lots; fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides off lawns; soils erosion and other contaminates from construction sites and the deliberate dumping of chemicals and other wastes into waterways or storm sewers.
In the spring of 2004, the Village passed an ordinance that prohibits the discharge to the storm drainage system of anything but storm water. This includes things such as old motor oil, antifreeze and other automotive fluids; unused paints, solvents or cleaning fluids; waste water like from carpet cleaning; animal wastes; etc.
Any person discharging pollutants into the waterways or storm drainage system is liable to criminal prosecution and is subject to a penalty of not less than $200.00 nor more than $1,000.00 per violation. In accordance with the Federal Storm Sewer Regulations, if anyone sees someone dumping chemicals, paints, solvents or other pollutants into the creeks or into storm drains or streets so that they get into the creek system, or a resident has any other storm water quality or concerns or issues, please contact the office of the Director of Public Works, Edward Santen, at 708-246-3154.
Most household wastes can be recycled, disposed of with the normal garbage collection when properly prepared or brought to a hazardous waste collection site. Visit the Village’s website at www.indianheadparkil.gov for further information on disposing of these wastes. It is important to know that every curb inlet and storm drain in the Village discharges into a pond or creek.
Also if you know a storm inlet in your street or yard, a culvert or ditch is important to protect your home from flooding. Check on it to make sure it is not blocked by snow, ice or debris. If you have any questions as to what assistance the village can provide in clearing these drainage facilities call the Public Works Department at 708-246-3154.
The entire length of the public drainageways within the village are thoroughly inspected annually and periodically throughout the year especially before and during rain events. If you live on or near Flagg Creek or open public drainageways, and notice any debris obstructing the flow or the water level in the creek or drainageways seems unusually high, call the Public Works Department. Do not attempt to clear any blockages yourself.
Please click here for information about homes in the floodplain, maps of the local flood hazard area, flood insurance, special permits for homes in the flood plain and more.