WATER UTILITY SERVICES

What Causes Sewer Overflows?

BLOCKAGES / STOP-UPS

Sewer back-ups and overflows are frequently caused by improper materials such as fats, oils and grease being placed into the sewer system. Since fats, oils and grease are lighter than water; they tend to accumulate at the top and sides of sewer pipes and can build up until a blockage occurs. They also tend to solidify as they cool inside pipes. If a blockage occurs, the sewer backs up or overflows resulting in property and environmental damage.

City of Waco ordinances require that restaurants install and maintain grease traps and/or interceptors to prevent grease from entering the sewer system. However, there are many more homes than there are restaurants.

Sanitary sewer systems are designed to handle only three things: used water, human body waste and toilet paper.

By reducing the amount of fats, oils and grease that enter the sewer system from homes, you can help to protect the environment by preventing sewer back-ups and overflows.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • Collect grease in a container and dispose of it in the garbage.
  • Place food scraps in waste containers or garbage bags for disposal with solid waste, or start a compost pile.
  • Place a wastebasket in the bathroom to dispose of solid waste. Disposable diapers, condoms, and personal hygiene products do not belong in the sewer system.

These suggestions can save you money too! Most sewer back-ups occur between the house and the City's sewer main, where the property owner is responsible for correcting the problem.

EXCESSIVE STORMWATER INFILTRATION

The excessive infiltration of rain into the sewer system also causes the sewer system to back-up and overflow. The City of Waco has separate systems for carrying stormwater and sewerage. When too much rainwater enters the sewer system, the capacity of the system is overwhelmed, causing sewer to back-up and overflow from manholes.

HOW DOES RAIN GET INTO THE SEWER SYSTEM?
As illustrated in the drawing below, rainwater can infiltrate the sewer system in a number of ways—through cracks in the sewer main, through cracks or breaks in private citizens’ plumbing, broken joints in pipe, open clean-outs or leaky manhole covers.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • Ensure clean-outs on your property are closed
  • Report open or damaged manholes
  • Repair broken / cracked sewer lines on your property
  • Report any sewer overflows immediately