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Geneva promotes overhead sewer program to avoid backups

GENEVA – City officials hope more residents take advantage of its overhead sewer program to avoid sewer backups during extraordinary flood events.

Since 2009, Geneva has offered a 50 percent matching grant up to $3,000 for homeowners to install overhead sewers. But only a half dozen residents have take the city up on its offer, said Superintendent of Water & Wastewater Bob Van Gyseghem at the committee of the whole meeting Monday.

“On April 18, we did have a severe rainstorm in town that flooded a lot of people out, a lot of backups,” Van Gyseghem said. “It was one of those occasions, within an hour we went from a normal type of situation in our sewer system to an overflowing situation. With our personnel – even if we doubled the size of our personnel – we could not have reacted in time to prevent any type of sewer backups in the city.”

Van Gyseghem highlighted the overhead sewer program so the public knows it is there.

“There are ways for the public to help themselves out with the overhead sewer grant program,” Van Gyseghem said. “The best way to avoid any type of sewer backup is to go to an overhead sewer.”

The public can see the terms for the program at

The program is for people who can demonstrate that they have had sewer backups in the past, Van Gyseghem said.

Those who had overhead sewers installed have not had a problem since, he said.

The installation connects the drain in the basement floor and slop sink and redirects an overflow out. During a storm with the possibility of a backup, Van Gyseghem said homeowners also should refrain from using the bathroom.

“It’s really as simple as a phone call to us, if your home has been affected by a rain event,” he said.

Call Van Gyseghem’s office at 630-232-1551.

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