Sanitary Sewer Overflows

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Sewer Backups Actions You Can Take to Prevent Sewer Overflows Reporting Overflows or Backups

What You Should Know!

No wipes of any kind should ever be flushed. Wipes clog Pipes!

When a sewer overflows, it is usually the result of inappropriate materials in the sanitary sewer system. Please help prevent sewer back-ups and overflows!

Sewer Backups

The sanitary sewer system is the network of underground pipes that carry wastewater from your sinks, toilets, showers, bathtubs, and interior floor drains to the wastewater treatment plant where it is cleaned and treated before discharging into the Neuse River.

Many sewer back-ups and overflows can be prevented with a progressive preventive maintenance program. Customers can also help prevent spills by wisely using Raleigh's sanitary sewer system. 

Sewer back-ups and overflows are frequently caused by improper materials such as fats, oils and grease being placed into the sanitary sewer system by Raleigh Water customers. Since fats, oils and grease are lighter than water, they tend to accumulate at the top and sides of sewer pipes and can build up until a blockage occurs. If a blockage happens, the sewer backs up or overflows resulting in property and environmental damage.

The City of Raleigh's Sewer Use Ordinance requires that restaurants install and maintain grease traps and/or interceptors to prevent grease from entering the sewer system. However, there are many more household kitchens than there are restaurants in our service area. By reducing the amount of fats, oils and grease that enter the sewer system from homes, you can help to protect the environment by preventing sewer back-ups and overflows.

Sanitary sewer systems are designed to handle three things: used water, human body waste, and toilet paper. You can do some simple things that will help protect water quality and maintain the sewer system in our service area.


Actions You Can Take to Prevent Sewer Overflows

  • Collect grease in a container and dispose of it in the garbage.
  • Do not pour grease, fats, and oils from cooking down the sink drain.
  • Place food scraps in waste containers or garbage bags for disposal with your weekly garbage collection or place your food scraps in a compost pile.
  • Do not use the sewer system as a means to dispose of food scraps.
  • Place a wastebasket in the bathroom to dispose of garbage. Disposable diapers, disinfectant wipes, and personal hygiene products do not belong in the sewer system.
  • Do not use the toilet as a wastebasket.
  • Fats, Oils, and Grease Brochure [English/Spanish] 
  • Fats, Oils, and Grease Educational Video
  • Apartment complex Property Managers can contact the Fats, Oils, and Grease program or call 919-996-2334 to request an educational resource kit.

Most sewer back-ups occur between the house and the public sewer main. If there is a blocked sewer service between the house and the City's sewer main, the property owner is responsible for correcting the problem. Avoiding blockages can help avoid substantial plumbing bills. When the blockage occurs in the City's sewer main, Raleigh Water will correct the problem.

Reporting Overflows or Backups

To report a sewer back-up or overflow, please call the Raleigh Water Customer Care and Billing at 919-996-3245 (24/7).

Reporting a problem could earn you $50, if you are the first to notify us of a sanitary sewer overflow.



To report a sewer back-up or overflow, please call 919-996-3245 or send an email to




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Sewer Maintenance