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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

New Jersey’s Combined Sewer Systems By the Numbers

This fact sheet frames the CSO issue in New Jersey by providing a host of facts about combined sewer systems, including their discharges, demographic and other information on their host municipalities and regional sewer utilities, and CSO solutions. A map is included. New Jersey Future. 2015.

Water Infrastructure in New Jersey’s CSO Cities: Elevating the Importance of Upgrading New Jersey’s Urban Water Systems

This report describes the new regulatory requirement facing the 21 New Jersey municipalities that have combined sewer systems, the characteristics of those cities and their combined sewer systems in particular, and the challenges they face in upgrading the systems. Prepared by Daniel Van Abs, PhD., for New Jersey Future. 2014.

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