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Sewer Frequently Asked Questions

What happens during a rain event when there’s more water than normal flowing to the treatment plant?

  • By design, the city’s wastewater collection system (sewer) is separate from the storm drainage system. Stormwater does not flow through the wastewater treatment plant. Instead, it flows directly into creeks, streams, lakes, and even into the Trinity River itself. 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, or 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. It can even lead to unnecessary expansion of the treatment plants to handle the extra/episodic flow. These costs get passed on to the consumer.
  • In order to combat this problem, the City of Fort Worth implemented a “Wet Weather” program and a Capacity Management and Operations Maintenance” (CMOM) program to identify and eliminate sources of I/I. Further, in 2004, the city constructed a high rate clarifier to allow high volumes of water associated with storm events to be safely treated and discharged into the receiving stream.

What causes sewer odors inside the house?

  • Sewage has a natural tendency to produce odors; all sewers have odors. The plumbing system in your home is designed to prevent these odors from entering the house by using a vapor trap. If you are experiencing odors indoors, it is likely that there is a problem with the vapor trap. If you experience a problem with your vapor trap, a plumber can help you.

What is a sewer lateral?

  • A sewer lateral is the privately owned and maintained sewer pipe connecting a building/dwelling to the public sewer main.

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 817-392-4477 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.

Where does the polluted water that is treated come from and where does it go?

  • The untreated (raw) wastewater flows by gravity through sewer lines (mains) from houses, commercial, and industrial sites throughout most of the City of Fort Worth and its 23 customer cities. After being treated, a high quality effluent is discharged into the Trinity River.

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 (817)392-4477 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 817-392-4477, 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 817-392-4477 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.

Do you have wastewater treatment plant tours for my school, group, etc.?

  • Yes. We are happy to schedule tours of our Treatment Plant for your school or civic group. For more information or to schedule a visit, contact Ginger Laird of Water Reclamation Division at Email: ginger.laird@fortworthtexas.gov Phone: 817-392-4927

Where could I find out information if I am interested in getting employment in the field of water pollution control?

  • You may check out the city’s web site for job openings and educational opportunities in our field.