WasteWater FAQ

What happens during a rain event when there’s more water than normal flowing throughout the collection system?

  • By design, the city’s wastewater collection system (sewer) is separate from the storm drainage system. Storm water does not flow through the wastewater treatment plant. Instead, it flows directly into creeks, streams, and lakes. However, due to unintended processes known as “Infiltration and Inflow” (I/I), excess water can enter the sewer system and ultimately the treatment plant.
  • Infiltration occurs when groundwater enters the sewer system through cracks, holes, faulty connections, or other openings. Inflow occurs when surface water, including storm water, enters the sewer system through roof downspout connections, holes in manhole covers, illegal plumbing connections, missing private cleanout caps, and other defects.
  • The sanitary sewer system and treatment plant have a maximum flow capacity of wastewater that can be contained and treated. I/I, which is essentially clean water, takes up this capacity and can result in sewer overflows into streets and waterways, sewer backups into homes, and unnecessary costs for treatment of this water.

What should I do if sewage is overflowing from a sewer structure onto the ground?

  • If you notice any sewage flowing onto the ground, call 936-294-5700 to report it. Please give your name and a call back number and note exact location and where the sewage is coming from. City crews will respond to investigate.

Sewage is backing up into my house overflowing from my drains. What should I do?

  • If these problems occur and you are not using any water outlets, there may be a problem in the city main. Call 936-294-5700 to request service. If you are using your household water outlets, turn them off. If the overflowing wastewater stops after turning off your outlets, you likely have a problem in your private sewer lateral, and you will probably need to call a plumber.

I have slow drainage through my toilets and drains. What can I do about it?

  • Check to see if your neighbors are having a similar slow drainage problem. Call the City at 936-294-5700, and we will check the mains. City crews will notify you if the problem is in the city main or not. If the city does not have a problem you will need to call a plumber to clean your private sewer lines.

Who do I call at night if I have a sewer problem or see a manhole overflowing?

  • The same number is used 24 hours per day. Please call 936-294-5700 to report any problems with service.

Where does the City’s responsibility begin and end with respect to wastewater utilities?

  • The City is responsible for all sewer collectors (mains) and outfalls located within right of ways and easements. Maintenance of customer service lines that are extended to the mains are the responsibility of the owners/customers.

How can I reduce my risk of sewer backing up into my home?

  • More often than not, sewer backing up into your home is a result of I/I from overland flooding, and/or a clog in the sewer lines.  A sewer backflow prevention device may prevent sewer from backing up into your residence.  It is a one way valve installed in your home’s drain line that allows wastewater to flow out, but swings shut to help prevent sewer from flowing back in.  Please note that this device must be installed by a professional plumber.

What can I do to help prevent sewer backups in the City’s sewer system?

  • Throw “Wet Wipes” away, and never flush them down the toilet.  While these wipes may be labeled as “flushable” they do not disintegrate within the sewer system.  They combine with fats, and greases in the system and form blockages which will restrict or stop the normal flow in the sewer lines.  They also clog pumps, which causes sewer backups due to the flow not being able to be moved to the next highest elevation in the system.
  • Grease blocking sewer lines is a serious maintenance problem for the City and private property owners.  When grease is poured/washed down private drain lines it sticks to the inside of the pipes as it cools down and forms solid masses.  This buildup will eventually restrict or block sewer lines completely, which can cause sewer to backup into your home or overflow into streets and waterways.
  • Home garbage disposals do not keep grease out of the sewer lines and products that claim to dissolve grease may dislodge a blockage, but it will eventually end up causing problems further downstream.

Here are some helpful tips to keep sewer lines free of fats and grease:

  • Never pour grease down sinks, tubs, or toilets.
  • Pour grease and oil into a can and put it in the freezer when it’s full.  The hardened grease can then be disposed of with your household trash without making a mess.
  • Remove food scraps from pots, pans, and dishes. Dispose of them in the trash can.
  • Catch food scraps with baskets or strainers in your sink drain and then throw those scraps into the trash can.