Sanitary Sewer and Storm Water Maintenance

The City of Tonka Bay Public Works Department provides for the operation, maintenance, and treatment of waste water to an environmentally safe level for returning the water back to the ecological system. 

Tonka Bay has eleven miles of sanitary sewer mains.  Each year about one-third of the City’s sanitary sewer mains are inspected and cleaned.  Mains requiring a higher level of maintenance are cleaned annually or semi-annually.  This routine maintenance helps to prevent blockages and sewer backups.

As a resident, you can play a key role in preventing sanitary sewer backups.   
To Flush or Not to Flush?  The main function of a sanitary sewer system is handle and process bodily waste. So what items commonly flushed shouldn't be? The list is long and causing problems the the sanitary sewer system.
The items should NEVER be flushed down the toilet:
• Rags, disposable wipes and personal cleansing cloths - Some of these products are marketed as flushable but they do not break down properly in the wastewater system and cause blockages and ruined equipment.
• Kleenex and tissues - These are designed to stay together when wet (i.e. when you blow your nose) and do not dissolve as easily in the wastewater system.
• Fats, Oils and Grease (known as FOG) - Fats, oils and grease are a by-product of cooking and the restaurant industry. FOG accumulates in the sewer pipes and hardens, causing sewer clogs.
• Garbage, plastic items (i.e. tampon applicators), "flushable" kitty litter - They do not break down properly in the waste water system and cause blockages and ruined equipment.
• Unused pharmaceuticals and medicines - Wastewater systems are not designed to remove the chemicals that make up these medications. The chemicals end up back in the water aquifers and waterways with unintended consequences of humans and animals consuming these chemicals. Fish and wildlife are being adversely affected by these chemicals that end up in the water. Dispose of your medications in the trash or at your local hazardous waste facility. Toilets are not trash cans! The cost to maintain and repair the wastewater system means a higher sewer bill for customers. The damage can be extensive and can cause unintended environmental damage as well as sewer backups. A hassle for you and a hassle for the wastewater operations specialists

Inflow and infiltration (I&I) is also a potential cause of sewer backups.  I&I refer to clear water getting into the sanitary sewer system.  This might occur through cracks or leaks in sewer pipes and manholes or from sump pumps incorrectly connected to the sanitary sewer system.  Particularly during large rain events, I&I can cause the sanitary sewer system to overflow resulting in sewer backups.
Because of the potential for I&I to create system issues, City ordinance prohibits property owners from disposing of clear water into the sanitary sewer system.  This includes water from any roof, surface or ground sump pump, foundation drain, or swimming pool.


Sanitary sewer problems should be reported to the City of Tonka Bay’s Public Works Department.  The City will work with you to identify the cause of the problem.  If there is a blockage in one of the City’s main sewer lines, the City will attempt to clear the blockage.  The sewer line from your home, business or other property to your property line is your responsibility.  That means that you, as the property owner, are responsible for clearing any blockages.  Property owners must schedule service and pay the cost of clearing any blockage located in the individual sewer line on their property.


If you have any questions regarding City’s sanitary sewer maintenance program, sewer back-up response or a specific incident, please contact Public Works at 952-474-7994, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Outside regular business hours, emergencies can be reported to the emergency on-call phone at 612-750-3600.  An on-duty Public Works employee will respond.