About half of the homes in Palm Coast have PEP tanks. Using them during a power outage could cause backups over time.
Residents with PEP (Pretreatment Effluent Pumping) tanks should limit water usage if their power goes out. Otherwise, they could risk waste backing up into their homes, according to Cindi Lane, Palm Coast’s communications and marketing manager.
About half of the homes in Palm Coast have PEP tanks, Lane said. If power outages occur because of Hurricane Irma, Lane warns residents that an average family will only be able to use a normal amount of waste water for three days before PEP tanks start to back up.
Hurricane Matthew caused problems for PEP tanks in Palm Coast in Oct. 2016, and Lane said the city is working to make sure aftermath problem solving goes faster and smoother this year should Hurricane Irma impact Flagler County with power outages and PEP tank problems.
Last year, the utilities department had to use generators from the public works department to temporarily turn on PEP tanks for homes with power outages to drain their waste, Lane said. This caused delays because the public works department first had to use the generators to turn on traffic signals around the city, as that’s a matter of public safety. Now, Palm Coast has generators designated specifically for PEP tank restoration.
“We have assembled generator teams of employees,” Lane said. “And so we’ve trained a lot of non-utility employees (to help).”
Lane said if waste starts backing up into your home, which typically occurs in the shower first, residents should call customer service at 986-2360. They will be taking calls 24 hours a day starting 8 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 10 through the duration of the storm.
“If we’re out there and we’re going down the street with a tanker truck sucking up PEP tanks, but yours is backing up into your house, we want to know,” she said. “We want to come to you first.”
If you call customer service, this is how Palm Coast utility workers can help:
- Utility workers can come to your house with a tanker truck and suck out the waste. Then the truck will take the waste to the wastewater plant.
- Utility workers can hook a generator up to the PEP panel, which is on the side of your house, and turn the pump on temporarily to move the waste into the sewer pipes.
To prevent PEP tanks from backing up after a power outage, limit water usage. Don’t do laundry, and flush as infrequently as possible.
If your PEP tank breaks or is getting backed up, an audible alarm will sound from the control panel. At that point, residents should call customer service (986-2360).