City News Center

Posted on: December 1, 2017

How sanitary sewer systems work

Sanitary sewer collection example

Ideally, a sanitary sewer collection system is completely gravity-powered. Sewer drain pipes from each house or building flow into a sewer collection system of piping. Periodically, within the sewer collection system, there are vertical concrete structures called manholes, which allow access to the sewer main collection system piping so inspections  and routine maintenance can be done. The sanitary sewer mains flow into progressively larger pipes until it reaches the Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Wastewater Treatment Facilities are typically located at the lowest elevation point of the sewer collection system to allow the wastewater to gravity to the facility. Normally, the lay of the land does not usually cooperate completely to allow all sewer to gravity. In these cases, the sewer system will include a “lift station” to force wastewater up and over a hill.

The property owner is responsible for maintenance and repair of their private service laterals (or sewer service) up to the City sewer main line including the tap connection at the main line.  

For more information about the Wastewater Treatment Facility and Wastewater Operations, visit our website at

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