Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why are there a bunch of flags and markings in the street near my house?

A: These are underground utility markings that are placed for a variety of reasons.  They can range from the planning of a future road/sewer/utility project to a local homeowner trying to plant a tree in his/her yard.  Diggers Hotline helps identify these buried utilities for any form of digging below the surface.  The utilities that are marked include a combination of city-owned and non-city- owned utilities. Check out the Current and Future Projects Tab on the website for information on the projects that may be going on in your neighborhood.  Visit the Diggers Hotline website for additional information regarding locates: and the color coding information for all the flags can be found here.

Q: My sewer lateral is plugged, who is responsible for any needed repairs?

A: The homeowner is responsible for the sewer lateral from the house to the main in the roadway.  The City is responsible for the sewer main.  Click here for more information.

Q: My basement is backing up, what do I do?

A: It is up to the homeowner to call a plumber and determine the solution to a basement backup.  However, the City will go out and check the sewer main to ensure there are no backups.  If there is, the City will go out and clean the sewer and attempt to alleviate the situation.

Q: Where is the City’s Right-Of-Way near my house?

A: The location of the City’s right-of-way varies from district to district.  Typically the right-of-way extends 2’ behind the back of the sidewalk but can be much greater in other areas of the city. It is best to call and get an exact answer.  If you are planning to do any work in the City right-of-way, you must obtain a ROW permit and the work must be completed by a licensed and bonded contractor. For more information:

Q: What types of utilities are in the street?

A: The City owns a variety of utilities that are below the pavement in the road or within the City right-of-way.  On most streets, this includes storm sewer, sanitary sewer, water main, and street lighting. There is also a gas main owned by We-Energies and sometimes there is telecommunications cable buried underground.

Q: What can I do with my sump pump discharge?

A: If your sump pump discharge is a nuisance, you can call to see if there is storm sewer available.  Many times, a homeowner can hire a contractor to connect their existing sump pump discharge to a nearby catch basin.  This work would require a right-of-way permit and need to be completed with a licensed and bonded contractor.

Q: What is the difference between storm sewer and sanitary sewer?

A: Storm Sewer is the collection of surface water runoff from rain, which can include downspout and sump pump connections.  Storm Sewer utilizes gravity to convey the flow of water from one point to another.  Storm water runs down the curb line of streets into catch basins, which then transfer flow to the main underground.  Sanitary Sewer is the collection of sewage and waste water which is then treated and cleaned at waste water treatment plants.  Everything you flush down the toilet and the water from your sink and more all goes into your sanitary lateral and into the main. Sanitary Sewer also utilizes gravity to flow but in certain cases it can use pumps to send the flow from a low elevation to a higher one.  The College Avenue Lift Station is a perfect example in which sewage is pumped from College Avenue up and around the curve at Lake Drive to continue heading north. 

More FAQ will be added to this page over time.

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