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 June 2014.




• The Department completed a Sewer Rate Study.


• The Department secured a loan under the DEQ Clean Water Loan Fund to fund the following projects:

o Upgrading the RCE pump station by adding larger pumps and electrical power improvements;

o Completing the replacement or abandonment of 17 steel septic tanks;

o Adding telemetry to the four sewer lift stations;

o Lining 25 manholes to reduce inflow and infiltration.

• The Department completed investigative work consisting of locating sewer lines and televising to obtain data to assist in the design of a pipe bursting and septic tank abandonment/replacement project.


• The Department participated in the design of the RCE pump station upgrade project.


• The Department completed routine septic tank inspection and pumping services.




RCE Pump and Electrical Power Upgrades. The City’s main pump station needs additional firm capacity of 88 gallons per minute (gpm) to accommodate existing peak flows and 110 gpm to serve future needs. The 25 horsepower (hp) will be upgraded to 35 hp pumps, and associated necessary electrical improvements will be made, including an additional transformer, to accommodate the additional hp. An overflow alarm will also be installed. Estimated cost: $124,320.


Steel Septic Tank Replacement or Abandonment. The City plans to replace or abandon 17 steel tanks under this project. When feasible, the tanks will be abandoned and the service will be converted to a direct gravity flow connection. However, in some cases converting the service to direct flow may be prohibitive due to excessive costs or lack of slope. In those cases, the steel tank will be replaced with a concrete tank. The project includes upsizing 1,857 linear feet of 4” sewer main to 6” main to accommodate the solids.  Estimated cost: $168,840.


Wastewater Telemetry, Monitoring and Alarm System. A cellular and internet based telemetry system will be added to each of the City’s four pump stations. The telemetry system will record flow rates and pump run times, handle alarms, and make emergency call outs in the event of a problem. Real time data will be accessible from remote locations, enabling simple controls to be conducted remotely, often preventing unneeded trips to the pump stations when an alarm goes off. Estimated cost: $19,320.


Manhole Lining. Approximately 25 manholes within the “K” Street pump station basin (located in the southwest area of the City) are exhibiting high degrees of groundwater flow into the sewer system, commonly referred to as infiltration. Infiltration increases energy and sewer treatment costs and reduces system capacity. Infiltration occurs through holes, cracks, joint failures, and faulty connections. The manholes will be lined with an epoxy-type grout to reduce infiltration. Estimated cost: $48,720.




To complete the RCE Pump and Electrical Power Upgrades project as outlined in 2014-15 Policy Goal and Objective 3A and 3G set forth by Council, and outlined in the Wastewater Facilities Plan and Five-Year Capital Improvement Program. Target date: December 2014.


To eliminate the remaining 36 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 2014-15 Policy Goal and Objective 3A and outlined in the Wastewater Facilities Plan and Five-Year Capital Improvement Program. Target date: Phase 1 - December, 2014, Phase 2 - December 2016, Phase 3 - December 2017, Phase 4 - December 2018.


To continue to retrofit existing septic tanks by raising accesses and installing clean outs to enable 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 line 25 sewer manholes in the “K” Street pump station basin in accordance with 2014-15 Policy Goal and Objective 3F and as outlined in the Wastewater Facilities Plan and Five Year Capital Improvement Program. Target date: December 31, 2014.


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, as outlined in the Wastewater Facilities Plan and Five Year Capital Program. 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