Backyard Storm Sewer Study

The City of Urbana is conducting a program to identify active service connections to the City storm sewer system. The study, being performed by the engineering firm RJN Group, Inc. of Downers Grove, Illinois, includes smoke testing of the storm sewers that are highlighted on the map below. The storm sewers being assessed are primarily located in backyards. Smoke testing is scheduled to begin mid-November and is expected to be completed by November 30, 2023, weather permitting. Additional notification will be provided by door hanger cards prior to the start of smoke testing and signs will be posted when crews are testing in your area.

Smoke testing is where air combined with non-toxic smoke is forced into the sewer at manholes, filling the system. The observation of smoke helps us see where the sanitary and storm system are cross-connected as well as any defects in the sewer line.

Smoke should not enter buildings unless there is defective plumbing or dried-up drain traps. Pour 1 gallon of water down all floor drains and any rarely used sinks/tubs/toilets by November 14, 2023, to ensure that a water barrier is maintained in the drain traps. The drain trap water barrier prevents sewer gases or odors from entering the building. If the drain trap water barrier is present and smoke does enter your home, the potential exists for sewer gases to also enter your home and you should consult a licensed plumber to fix the problem. If smoke is entering your home during the smoke testing, you can contact a member of the RJN crew if they are still on your street. If the RJN crew is no longer in the area contact the RJN Group office at 630-682-4700.


The smoke is non-toxic, low odor, creates no fire hazard, leaves no residue, dissipates quickly, and is harmless. However, if someone in your home has respiratory concerns, they may wish to leave smoke- filled areas until smoke testing is completed. Please visit or use the QR code for additional information on smoke testing.

Property owners in the project area (shown in the image above) are asked to complete a survey about the sewer connections on their property by November 30, 2023: Storm Sewer Data Collection Questionnaire 

RJN Group staff will be happy to speak with you if you have any further questions about the smoke testing process or respiratory concerns. Please contact the RJN project manager at the number listed below.

If you have any questions, please call Archana Kuchimanchi, RJN Project Manager, at 312-363-8835. You can also call Carmen Franks at the City of Urbana at 217-384-2342. Your cooperation with the 2023 Storm Sewer Smoke Testing program is greatly appreciated.

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- Last Modified -October 30, 2023 - 4:20pm
- Author - BridgetB