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Combined Sewer Systems

Many of New Jersey’s oldest cities still rely on combined sewer systems — systems in which stormwater runoff from city streets feeds into sewer lines and is treated, along with sewage, by treatment plants. Some of these systems are more than 100 years old.

During heavy rainfalls the volume of stormwater in the older, combined systems can overwhelm the capacity of the treatment plant. When that happens, combined sewage can overflow into area waterways, or back up into streets, public spaces such as parks, and sometimes even residential basements. This makes the sewage treatment plant operator vulnerable to lawsuits under the federal Clean Water Act.

Jersey Water Works’ initial efforts involve working with communities and utilities that have combined sewer systems, to help them identify and implement the appropriate combination of strategies to reduce sewer overflows.

Resources

An Agenda For Change

This white paper summarizes the outcome of a 2014 gathering on water infrastructure, including guiding principles for improving urban water infrastructure, drivers for action and a set of action steps to stimulate progress. New Jersey Future. 2014.

The Power of the Passaic: Paterson’s Birth and Rebirth Along the River

This case study illustrates how water infrastructure serves to improve or impair the quality of life in Paterson. 2014.

Best Management Practices Plan for the Operation and Maintenance of the Combined Sewer, Separate Sanitary Sewer and Separate Stormwater Systems

This document presents industry-accepted standards that a well-run utility uses to operate and maintain its combined sewer system, separate sanitary sewer system, and separate stormwater system. Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority. 2014.

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