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Vacuum Collection System

History of Vacuum Collection

Vacuum sewers were first used in Europe in 1882. However, it has been only in the last 30 years that vacuum transport has been utilized in the United States.

In the 1970’s, vacuum sewers were still regarded as new and only to be used as a system of last resort. Improvements in the technology along with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants later led to acceptance as an alternative to gravity and low pressure sewers. Currently there are 700 AIRVAC vacuum systems in operation in the United States and in foreign countries, with two of these systems being operated by the City of White House.

Vacuum in the White House System

Due to the design of this system, failures result in the loss of service to multiple customers on the system. Several vacuum mains are located in the rear of the homes. The department’s access to this equipment is vital to maintaining service.

If a failure occurs at one service connection, it not only interrupts service at that address but also the surrounding homes. Therefore, the city is presently in the planning stages of reducing the service areas of the vacuum system, with a long range goal of the elimination of these systems.

 

Low Pressure System

Low pressure sewer systems function in one of two different ways:

Grinder Pumps

The first uses grinder pump stations, which consist of a prefabricated wet well, which is buried in the ground collecting the sewage and housing the pump and control panel. Each residence needs a small grinder pump station to collect wastewater from the home, grind it up, and then pump it into the pressure sewer line to treatment.

Gravity

The second way is using a network of gravity sewer mains and house services to collect the wastewater and transport it by gravity to a large “lift station” which pumps it into the pressure sewer line to treatment.