Sewer Department


The Sewer Department is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the sewer collection system. The City's sewer collection system is composed of gravity sewer lines, pump stations, and forcemains encompassing over 16 miles of pipeline. The original sewer system was designed to be a septic tank effluent system with small diameter mainlines laid at a minimum depth of 4-feet and at shallower grades than is typically used for sewers that receive direct flow. Some areas of town do not have septic tanks and are serviced by direct flow of the sewage to the collection system.


All wastewater is pumped to the City of St. Helens for treatment via a 6-inch diameter forcemain. The “K” Street and the River Club Estates (RCE) pump stations are connected to this line. The Pixie Park and Forest Park pump stations pump flows from lower elevations to points in the system where it ten flows by gravity to the RCE pump station.


There are currently 812 sewer connections. 285 connections are direct flow into the sewer collection system, while the remaining 527 connections share 473 septic tanks (419 concrete and 54 steel). There are also 23 City-maintained small sewer pumps to overcome elevation problems. The City is responsible for the maintenance and replacement of all of the septic tanks connected to the system, as well as the small pumps that were in place when the City's sewer system was constructed. The City is also responsible for pumping the septic tanks.


The Sewer Department is staffed by the Public Works Superintendent, Micah Rogers, two Utility Workers, and seasonal help. The Public Works Superintendent is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations and the development of the City sewer system, and for supervising the sewer system maintenance staff. The department can be reached by calling (503) 366-0454, or faxing to (503) 366-2870. Their mailing address is PO Box 189, Columbia City, OR 97018. You can also contact them directly through the online contact form. The City Shop is located at 1755 Second Place.


Current Rates and General Regulations for Water and Sewer Services - Last revision to information was 9/26/13  





• The Department completed the development and adoption of an updated Wastewater Collection System Facility Plan.

• The Department is in the process of completing a Sewer Rate Study.

• The Department abandoned one failing steel septic tank and converted the connection to a direct flow, and the department is currently replacing one failing steel septic tank with a concrete tank.

• The Department awarded a new three-year contract for septic tank maintenance services.

• The Department conducted smoke testing and visual inspections of the collection system and service lines to identify areas of inflow and infiltration. Problem areas were documented and have been targeted for repair.

• The Department plans to submit an application for funding under the DEQ Clean Water Loan Fund to fund one or more of the following projects:

o Upgrade the RCE pump station by adding larger pumps and electrical power improvements.

o Complete the replacement or abandonment of several steel septic tanks;

o Add telemetry to the four sewer lift stations;

o Line 25 manholes to reduce inflow and infiltration.




RCE Pump and Electrical Power Upgrades. The RCE pump station is located in a residential area adjacent to the Columbia River. To prevent raw sewage overflows that could result in discharge to the Columbia River, the City’s main pump station, (with a capacity of only 172 gpm) needs additional firm capacity of 88 gpm to accommodate existing peak flows and 110 gpm to serve future needs. An upgrade of the pumps from 25 hp to 35 hp as well as associated electrical improvements, including an additional transformer, to accommodate the additional horsepower is needed. It is assumed that the current wet well and the chemical injection system will not need to be replaced. An overflow alarm will need to be installed per DEQ request. Estimated cost: $148,000.


Telemetry. A cellular and internet based telemetry system is recommended for each of the City’s four pump stations. The project consists of installing a remote telemetry unit (RTU), a transmitter, and depth sensor at each pump station. The telemetry system would record flow rates, pump run times, handle alarms, and make emergency call outs in the event of a problem. Real time data would be accessible from remote locations, and simple controls could be conducted remotely, often preventing unneeded trips to the pump station when an alarm goes off. Data could be utilized for pro-active maintenance, prior to pump failures and possible overflows. Two of the four pump stations are situated in residential areas adjacent to the Columbia River. The telemetry system could prevent system overflows from reaching the Columbia River. Estimated cost: $23,000.


Manhole Lining. This portion of the project consists of lining approximately 25 manholes to reduce infiltration within the “K” Street pump station basin located in the southwest area of town. The manholes would be lined on the inside with an epoxy type grout. The manholes exhibit high degrees of infiltration. No earthwork will be needed. Estimated cost: $58,000.


Steel Septic Tank Replacement or Abandonment. There are currently 54 steel septic tanks remaining within the City’s sewer system. Each of the steel tanks is at least 22 year old. A sampling of the tanks shows that many have holes and are leaking. A complete inventory of the tank conditions is currently underway in order to prioritize them for either abandonment or replacement. This project will target those tanks that are identified as the highest priority (e.g. leaking, severely deteriorating, etc.) based upon the results of the investigation. The tanks will either be bypassed and abandoned in place or replaced with a DEQ approved concrete tank. If tank abandonment is cost prohibitive due to high costs of improvements needed to the adjoining collection system to receive raw sewage verses septic tank effluent, the steel tank will be replaced. In areas where it is economically feasible to make improvements to the adjoining collection system to receive raw sewage, the tanks will simply be bypassed and abandoned in place and improvements made to the local collection system. Estimated cost: $201,000.




To complete the RCE Pump and Electrical Power Upgrades project as outlined in City Council Goal No. 3H and the Five-Year Capital Improvement Program. Target date: December 2013.


To eliminate the remaining 55 steel septic tanks within the collection system by either abandoning the tank and converting the service to a direct flow connection, or by replacing the steel tank with a concrete tank, in accordance with City Council Goal No. 3A and as outlined in the Five-Year Capital Improvement Program. Target date: First phase - June 30, 2014; entire project - June 30, 2019.


To continue to retrofit existing septic tanks by raising accesses, installing clean outs, etc., for easier maintenance. Target date: Ongoing.


To continue to implement the five-year septic tank pumping plan and perform routine system maintenance to prevent sewer backups. Target date: Ongoing.


To work towards eliminating shared septic tanks as resources permit, in an effort to further reduce sewer backups, with the addition of new tanks or direct flow upgrades. Target date: Ongoing.


To continue to work towards the prevention of inflow and infiltration of sewer lines in an effort to reduce the amount of sewer flow, which will reduce sewer treatment costs and add system capacity. Target date: Ongoing.


To continue to meet all requirements and regulations governing sewer systems through upgraded facilities and well-educated staff. Target date: Ongoing.


To emphasize special training and education of department employees. Target date: Ongoing.

City of Columbia City • P.O. Box 189 • 1840 Second Street • Columbia City, OR  97018 • (503) 397-4010 • Contact Us