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Prevent Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs)

You can help reduce or prevent SSOs by following a few simple rules:

Keep Drains and Sewers Clear of Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG)

Keep grease out of the pipes

Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) can cause blockages in sewer pipes and lead to SSOs. Grease should never be poured down sink drains or into toilets or garbage disposals. Instead, pour grease and oil into a covered disposable container and put it in the trash. “COOL IT – CAN IT – TRASH IT.” Food scraps, meat fats, dairy products, and butter and margarine should never be put down the drain or into a garbage disposal.

For more information on fats, oils and grease, visit the FOG page.

Maintain and Repair Sewer Laterals

A sewer lateral, also known as a building’s sewer, is the waste disposal pipe connecting a home or business to the BWSC sewer main in the street. While BWSC is responsible for maintaining its sewer main located in the public way, property owners are responsible for all expenses resulting from maintenance and repair of their building’s entire lateral from inside the property’s basement to BWSC’s sewer main in the street. Blocked and collapsed sewer laterals can lead to sewer backups into a property. Have your sewer lateral inspected for blockages, breaks, and leaks. If a problem is detected, repairing, replacing, or relining your sewer lateral can help prevent sewer backups.

The BWSC Sewer Lateral Financial Assistance Program is a financial reimbursement program that is designed to assist property owners with the cost of repair or replacement of their sewer laterals.

For more information see our Sewer Lateral Financial Assistance Program brochure.

Keep Wipes out of Pipes

There are many new disposable wipes that claim to be “flushable” and “sewer safe.” However, these wipes do not break down as they travel through pipes and into the sewer system. Wipes can create clogs in both household plumbing and the public sewer system and result in SSOs.

Wipes that should be disposed of in the trash, and not flushed down the toilet, include:

Wipes that should be disposed of in the trash, and not flushed down the toilet, include:

  • Bathroom wipes
  • Baby wipes
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Towelettes

For more information see our Keep Wipes out of Pipes brochure in English or Spanish.

Disconnect Your Downspout

A downspout, also known as a roof leader, carries excess stormwater from roofs and gutters away from homes to yards and grassy areas. Some downspouts are improperly connected into the sewer system. Improperly connected downspouts need to be disconnected. Improperly connected downspouts can overburden the sewer system during heavy rain events and result in sewer backups onto streets and into properties. Disconnect downspouts from sewer system and redirect to drain into the yard or other landscaped area. This removes excess flow from the sewer system and greatly reduces the chance of SSOs.

For more information see Downspout Disconnection brochure.

Properly Install Sump Pumps

Install sump pumps to help keep your home dry by pumping ground water away from your foundation. Sump pumps must drain to your lawn or other yard area. It is illegal to have the sump pump connected to the sewer system. Such connections allow a tremendous amount of water to enter the system which, in turn, causes the sanitary sewer to exceed the pipe's capacity during wet weather and sewage can overflow into nearby ditches and streams or backup into downstream homes.

Properly Install Backwater Valves

Heavy rainstorms can cause overland flooding and sewage backups into homes or businesses in low-lying areas. While overland flooding cannot always be prevented, sewage backups can be avoided if your property is properly equipped with a backwater valve.

A backwater valve is a fixture that is installed on a sewer line or drain in the basement. A properly installed backwater valve prevents the reverse flow of water, keeping sewage from entering your property.

For more information see our Backwater Valve Regulations brochure.

Spread the word to your friends and neighbors about what we can all do to help prevent SSOs!

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