No one likes sanitary sewer overflows - especially KUB. Our employees work hard to prevent them, but heavy rains and flooding often cause overflows. The answers to the following questions may help you better understand overflows and how your utility operates:
What are sanitary sewer overflows?
Overflows happen when wastewater escapes from manholes before reaching the treatment plant. Many overflows never leave the area of the manhole - unless they are carried by stormwater flooding. Visit our SSO Log (see navigation) for any recent sewer overflows.
Will reducing overflows help clean up our creeks?
It will help, but creek contamination comes from many sources. The EPA says stormwater runoff is the leading cause of water pollution in the U.S. It washes animal waste (from pets, livestock, wildlife), pesticides, fertilizer, oil, and other pollutants into creeks. [http://www.epa.gov/greeningepa/stormwater-management for more information.]
What should I do if I see an overflow?
Avoid contact and call KUB at 524-2911. If you can't avoid contact, wash thoroughly with soap and water.
Are sewer overflows health hazards?
Sewer overflows may expose you to bacteria. Overflows contain everything that goes down your drain, including water from washing machines, dishwashers, sinks, showers, and toilets. Although the toilet water is diluted by the other water, we urge you to avoid contact. If you can't avoid contact, wash thoroughly with soap and water.
Skin contact doesn’t pose a serious health risk, but there is some risk of disease from swallowing bacteria. So, we urge you to always wash your hands before preparing or eating food, after using the bathroom (or helping someone else use the bathroom, changing diapers, cleaning toilets, etc.), and after handling anything that had contact with floodwater or sewage.
What happens after an overflow?
First, we post signs that alert people to the overflow. When the overflow stops, we clean up the area and apply lime as a disinfectant.
Why can't you fix just the areas with problems right away?
Fixing “spot problems” wouldn't really help. We must look at the system as a whole and follow a coordinated plan to ensure the problems are really fixed - not just moved farther down the line.
Will KUB be able to stop all sewer overflows?
No, all utilities have overflows, especially in very wet weather. We're working hard to improve our system and reduce overflows, but we can't control rain or flooding.
Can you close up manholes to stop overflows?
Not in most cases. Manholes do allow water to get in the system, but they are needed for maintenance access and ventilation. And if water can't escape at manholes, it may backup into homes.
How can I help?
Stopping overflows and cleaning up our creeks will take hard work from all of us. You can start by discarding cooking grease in your trash and not down your drain. For more information, see our Can the Grease section. We also offer tips to help you be part of the pollution solution at home, at work, and in the community.