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What You Need to Know About Vacuum Sewers

OnDemand Webinar (86 minutes)

There are several alternatives for consideration to provide sanitary sewerage for municipal services. While gravity sanitary sewers may be the preferred solution, flat terrain, shallow groundwater or rock can increase construction cost prohibitively. Typically gravity sewers can extend (at 0.4% slope) for only 2,000 feet in flat terrain (8' drop) before a lift station is required. If houses have basements or groundwater/rock are issues, these problems can be exacerbated. Vacuum sewers can extend as far as 5,000 feet in all directions at 0.2% slope and have many cost-effective uses and a good 'tool' for use by municipalities and engineers. Flatter slopes to the vacuum lines and shallower construction provide definite advantages over traditional construction. This OnDemand Webinar will identify basics of vacuum sewers, locations for use, design issues, and use case histories as examples of the use of vacuum sewers.

Learning Objectives:

  • You will be able to describe the basic process of vacuum sewers.
  • You will be able to discuss the basic design concept.
  • You will be able to identify equipment manufacturers.
  • You will be able to review how to objectively evaluate vacuum system design.


Robert J. Paulette, PE, Wilson & Company, Inc.


Use of Vacuum Sewers

• Where to Use - Flat Terrain; Rocky Subsurface; High Groundwater

• How to Use - Central Vacuum Pumping Station; Radiating Sewers From Single Central Source; Sawtooth Design at 0.2% Slope

Basic Design Concept

• Vacuum Station

- 18'-20' Maximum Lift Allowed; Altitude of Site Critical to Consider

- Central Location - Equal Lift Available in All Directions

- Major Equipment Components - Vacuum Pumps, Vacuum Tank, Discharge Pump

- Operation/Maintenance Considerations

• Vacuum Sewers

- 0.2% Slope Minimum (Steeper Slope Ok); Minimum/Maximum Lifts Depending on Sewer Size; Gravity Flow (Vacuum Conditions) Between Lifts

- Minimum Length per Lift Generally 35-50'

- Operation/Maintenance Considerations

- Proximity to Potable Water Piping

- Valve Pits

Equipment Manufacturers

• Provide Package Systems - House Connection Valves Are the Key

• USA - AirVac, Inc., Indiana

• Worldwide -

- Flovac - Germany

- RoeVac - Germany

Case Studies

• Albuquerque North/South Valleys

- Overall Service - 11 Stations, 20 Miles of Sewers; 27,000 Persons Served

- Evolution of Vac Station Design - Learning Process Through Operations

- In Service for Over 15 Years

• Other Locations