FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


Index


Why am I on a private sewer system and paying a MSD sewer bill, but MSD does not maintain my line?

Customers connected to sewers which are located outside the District's easement and whose wastewater flows into lines within the District pay sewer charges to maintain the lines within the District and for treatment of the wastewater.
Top

What does "private" mean?

Private means that the problem a customer is experiencing is not related to a sewer line that MSD maintains and may be in their own plumbing. At this point, they will need to hire a plumber for further assistance.
Top

What is a private system?

A private sewer collection system is a system which is not owned or maintained by MSD. Private collection systems are usually owned and maintained by individuals, firms, homeowner's associations, or other such private entities. Systems that were private at the time the District took over ownership of the local sewers are still considered private as they were never taken over by the local township or city prior to this time. A sewer collection system is any sewer line which has more than one connection to a common line.

The District is aware of many private and unclaimed systems. To address the situations that pose a direct threat to the public's health and welfare, the District has a Private Sewer Rehabilitation Program in place. If you have been cited by NCDENR or have had multiple backups documented by MSD System Services, you are eligible to apply for the program. Please call 828-254-9646 for further details. Top

What is a service line?

A service line is an individual residence or business sewer pipe which comes from your house or business to MSD's main sewer pipe. Service lines are maintained by the customer.
Top

What is a main line?

A main line is that larger pipe usually in the street or MSD's easement which carries sewer to the Treatment Plant for treatment. These are the pipes which service all residential and business areas and carry waste water from the connected laterals to the wastewater treatment plant. They will be the pipes that are in the manholes you frequently see about our streets and other areas.
Top

What is an easement?

An easement is a right to use the land of another in some limited way that does not amount to full ownership of the land. MSD acquires easements for public sewer lines by legal grant from property owners. The grant includes a surveyed description of the easement corridor for the sewer line. It also specifies the rights and restrictions of use within the corridor by both the land owner and MSD. All easements acquired by MSD are recorded at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds office to become public record. Once recorded, the easement runs in perpetuity with the land until 1) it is specifically released by MSD or 2) the public sewer line is abandoned and no longer used.
Top

Why does the clean out need to be exposed 5' from the public right-of-way?

Five feet from the public right-of-way would be five feet behind a curb or sidewalk. If there is a sidewalk or asphalt that runs right up to the building, MSD will pay to put the concrete or asphalt back. If the MSD main line runs off the road and there are questions about where the MSD easement is, a System Services employee can assist with marking the line or showing the customer about where it lays.
Top

How do I determine the width of a MSD easement?

Easement widths are shown on the plat attached to the easement agreement for your property and recorded at the Register of Deeds office. For older prescriptive easements the width is determined by depth and size of sewer line. Please note that MSD easement widths vary. Contact MSD at (828) 254-9646 and ask for the Right of Way Department to verify the exact width of the easement in question.
Top

What uses are restricted within the MSD easement?

The construction of sheds, buildings, structures, retaining walls, decks or other obstructions within the easement are not allowed. Planting of trees within the easement is not allowed under any circumstances. The placement of additional fill or the removal of fill over the pipeline is not allowed without the prior written consent of MSD, as this could affect the structural integrity of the pipe. To insure appropriate safety separations, other utility lines including but not limited to electric, gas, telephone, cable, or water lines cannot be constructed without the prior written consent of MSD. Please note that MSD easement widths vary greatly. Contact MSD (828) 254-9646 and ask for the Right of Way Department to verify the exact width of the easement in question.
Top

What uses are allowed within the MSD easement?

Fencing is allowed as long as the construction of the fence does not include a continual footer (i.e. post holes allowed but no running footers allowed). Shrubs and gardens are allowed within the easement. The construction of a driveway is allowed within the easement; however, the customer should contact MSD to verify that their particular project is in compliance.
Top

Sewer is backing up in my residence or business, what should I do?

Call MSD first. We can be contacted at 828-255-0061, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will promptly dispatch a crew to check the main sewer at no charge to you. If there is a cleanout at the public right-of-way, MSD will also inspect the cleanout to determine the location of the blockage in the service line. MSD will clear the stoppage if it is in the MSD main sewer line or the portion of the service line in the public right-of-way. If the stoppage is in the private property section of the service line, MSD personnel will notify the owner and advise if a plumber should be called.
Top

Who is MSD and are we related to the City of Asheville?

The Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County was established under an act of the state legislature and is a local governmental agency providing waste water collection and treatment services to approximately 42,000 residences and business located in several municipalities and certain unincorporated areas in Buncombe County. The governing board is comprised of twelve members appointed by eight local governments. We are not directly affiliated with the County or City government but both have representation on our board of directors. Board meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month at 2 p.m. at MSD Administrative offices located at 2028 Riverside Drive, Asheville, N.C. Board meetings are open to the public.
Top

Is there a charge if I call MSD about a sewer backup?

There is no charge for MSD to check the problem whether it is found with the public sewer or not.
Top

How many miles of pipe does MSD maintain?

Approximately 950 miles of public sewer pipes, ranging from 6" to 66" in diameter.
Top

How much wastewater does MSD treat per day?

MSD is averaging 16 million gallons of wastewater through the plant every day. However, 40% of that is from infiltration and inflow, which means it comes from sources that are not supposed to be entering the system, such as groundwater and rainwater.
Top

How many people work at MSD?

We employ about 150 full time staff with duties ranging from maintaining the sewer lines, overseeing 30 pump stations, operating the treatment plant, engineering sewer line rehabilitation projects, and monitoring industrial waste and reducing grease from restaurants.
Top

Where does the treated wastewater go?

The treated water is returned to the French Broad River. The returning wastewater stream amounts to less than 2% of the downstream flow. The treated water entering the river has a lower bacteria count than the river.
Top

How does a company do business with MSD?

Contact Julie Willingham, Purchasing Coordinator at 828-225-8256.
Top

What is a cleanout and where would it be located?

A cleanout is used as an access point into a customer's sewer line for cleaning or clearing blockages. They are usually located on service lines at the public right-of-way or at boundaries of MSD's easement and are approximately 4" in diameter. Some cleanouts will have a metal cover over them to protect them from getting broken. These covers are 6" in diameter and typically have the work "sewer" stamped on the cover. These cleanouts are maintained by MSD. Cleanouts are also located next to houses and building to allow for easy access for property owners or plumbers to clean service lines or clear blockages on the private side of service lines. These cleanouts are not maintained by MSD.
Top

What is a manhole and where would it be located?

Manholes are used to access our underground infrastructure. It is round and is usually located in the road or MSD's easement. It is a base with lines coming through it for access to sewer lines and can be used to clear stoppages. Typical manhole lids are 24" in diameter.
Top

What is the difference between a sanitary sewer manhole and a storm drain?

The storm drain/storm sewer collects rainwater runoff and transports this storm water to creeks, rivers, and then to our oceans. This water is collected through inlets located on our streets and in ditch lines by the streets. Storm water drains should carry only water and should not be used to dispose of chemicals, pollutants, or human waste. Storm drains are typically maintained by city, county, or state agencies and does not fall under MSD's jurisdiction. Sanitary sewer manholes are access points on the sanitary sewer collection system that are designed to carry sewage (waste water) from homes or businesses to a water reclamation plant (sewerage treatment plant). This wastewater will be treated then released into the French Broad River.
Top

What is a backflow valve and who installs it?

A backflow valve can greatly reduce your possibility of a sewer back up. A backflow valve is a fixture installed into a sewer line to prevent sewer backflows. A properly installed and maintained backflow valve works on a one-way system. Sewage can go out, but cannot come back in. Property owners are responsible for the installation and maintenance of backflow valves. The cost to install one is dependent upon the type of plumbing in your home and the difficulty of installation. A qualified plumber can assist you in determining your needs.
Top

What do I need to do to expose my service line?

A service line needs to be dug out and exposed large enough so that a man can get down in the hole, cut the pipe, and install the clean out with little to no digging required.
Top

Why does MSD not maintain my service line all the way to my house?

MSD only assists in the maintenance of service lines that are in the public right-of-way, providing that there is access on it. Anything beyond that would be on private property and MSD has no jurisdiction at that point.
Top

Why can't MSD locate a customer's tap? Who can locate it?

MSD can not locate individual service taps. We have no knowledge of where house lines tie into MSD's main line. A plumber with locating equipment should be able to locate your line for you.
Top

Why are there flags in my yard or markings spray painted on the street?

It is generally because there is excavation work being planned in the area by a utility company or a contractor. The flags or marks show the location of buried utility lines. Before MSD would do any excavation work on your property, you would be contacted unless an emergency situation arises.
Top