Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4)

Sump Pumps and Sewer Overflows

Onondaga County and its Department of Water Environment Protection have been hard at work reducing the inflow and infiltration of clear water (stormwater and groundwater) into the sanitary system. During heavy rains this additional water often overwhelms sewer mains, threatening public health by causing untreated sewage to backup into basements and overflow into Onondaga Lake and its tributaries.

Among the sources of such excess are residential basement sump pumps, footer drains, and downspouts which contribute millions of gallons of runoff via illicit sewer line connections. When you consider that 1,000 gallons of water can run off an average house during a 1-inch rainstorm, this can add up to create a sizeable burden for the sewer system. The new Onondaga County Sewer Use Ordinance (SUO), passed in January 2011, includes tools to effectively address noncompliant sources of inflow and infiltration to assure that the sewer system has adequate capacity for future generations.

Homeowners with improper connections are thus strongly encouraged to disconnect their sump pumps and downspouts and safely reroute them outside into their yards, away from their home’s foundation, and away from their neighbors’ property.