STEP System FAQ
Where does my responsibility for the STEP System begin?
It is CUD policy that your responsibility for the STEP system’s disposal capability extends to the inlet “Tee” in your home’s tank. The inlet tee is a vertical pipe attached to the horizontal pipe that drains the used water to the STEP tank. We request that you do not connect rain gutters or storm drains to your STEP system, and don’t allow any surface water to enter. This can cause an overload.
CUD has produced a booklet that addresses all of the rules and regulations that apply to and protect our ratepayers.
What should I do if my STEP System alarm sounds?
Call Consolidated Utility District at 615-893-7225 if the alarm activates (it will sound like a smoke alarm). The alarm can be silenced by pushing the light located directly above the “PUSH TO SILENCE” label on the front of the control panel or the silence toggle switch on the left side of the control panel. The tank has a reserve storage capacity to last for another 24 to 48 hours.
If your STEP system needs service after normal business hours, CUD has on-call technicians who will visit your STEP field and access the control room to diagnose and address the issue. If any problem with the STEP system occurs, CUD should be called first. CUD is responsible for maintenance of the system.
If there’s a power outage, how does that affect my STEP system?
If a power outage occurs, it is not necessary to call CUD. Your system is designed to work normally once power returns. Your tank also has capacity for approximately 24 hours of limited use in a power outage (toilets, sinks, showers). If your electric power provider cannot restore power within 24 hours, contact CUD at (615) 893-7225.
If you want to ensure usage during a long-term electrical power outage event, consider buying a properly-sized generator for your home.
Why did the price-per-thousand-gallons increase in May 2023?
The rate was adjusted because of rising supply costs and maintenance demands on the STEP systems throughout Rutherford County.
Thanks to the usage of operational efficiencies and best practices, this was the first time a rate increase was necessary since 2010.
What is the STEP sewer fee, and how do I prepare for a larger bill in the summer?
As a CUD STEP customer, your property is on CUD’s water lines and on CUD’s STEP sewer system. CUD gives a discounted rate during the billing periods (not the reading dates) from April 1st to October 31st. You will still pay the $28 minimum STEP sewer fee, and your remaining usage is automatically factored in as a discounted rate into the sewer portion of your bill during this time.
If you are filling a pool, irrigating, or continuously using water, and you would like to budget for the first bill in November (which will include the regular sewer rate – not the SSA rate), you may want to begin decreasing usage in September.
To make sure CUD does not read increased usage as a possible leak on your property, please call CUD at (615) 893-7225 and speak with our Billing Department.
Am I allowed to put trash or rubbish on the STEP field?
If a STEP field is damaged, it’s deemed unusable. CUD asks property owners to avoid dumping items such as potted plant, Christmas trees, and construction materials onto the space itself.
Inside your home, there are certain items you should avoid flushing as they can damage your septic tank. These include:
- Plastics and rubber items
- Coffee grounds
- Cigarette butts
- Paper items other than bath tissue
- Clumps of hair
- Flammable or toxic liquids
How does a STEP System operate?
The soil that makes up a STEP field has been untouched for many years and plays a vital role in wastewater absorption. That’s why it’s critical to your home and your neighbors’ homes that your STEP field be kept clear and undisturbed.
Starting at your home, the STEP System uses gravity to push wastewater to the septic tank through your residence’s plumbing line. Wastewater flows through a septic tank and is then pumped back to the recirculating sand filter (RSF). STEP System pumps turn on every 1-2 days with normal water use.
STEP fields with RSFs carry a low cost of materials because of naturally occurring materials that work with the pumping system.
The water passes through the RSF five times before an ultraviolet (UV) light provides final disinfection. After UV treatment, the wastewater moves to the STEP field for final disposal.
Each STEP field is tested by state-licensed soil scientists to ensure the soil can absorb the water. CUD tests each STEP System’s sand filter monthly for chemicals, contaminants, and levels of oxygen.
Why does my subdivision have a STEP field?
Much of Rutherford County rests on limestone rock, which doesn’t easily absorb water. This can cause a problem for both wastewater and stormwater. A STEP field is an advancement in infrastructure that allows for development of residential or commercial property.
In essence, a STEP field uses gravity and naturally occurring substances (rocks, sand, and dirt) – along with UV light – to absorb and treat wastewater for a large number of homes. If your subdivision uses a STEP System for wastewater absorption and disposal, you’re familiar with the large, open field that is likely bordered by a fence. In Middle Tennessee, STEP fields literally pave the way for the building of neighborhoods.