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Collection Down The Drain

When you flush your toilet, where does it go? The collection system is a complicated series of sewers, force mains, manholes, regulators and lift stations. Proper maintenance of the collection system ensures that wastewater is not allowed to back up and overflow into the street, someone’s home, or into the streams, rivers or Lake Erie.
Sewage enters the collection system from a variety of sources: residential customers, industrial customers, and stormwater.


Residential or domestic wastewater is sewage that is derived mostly from homes, businesses, institutions, and more, originating as wastes from kitchens, bathrooms and showers.

Residential wastewater may be collected through a direct connection to the sewage collection system called a sanitary lateral. A sanitary lateral is a pipe from a home or business that transports wastewater into larger pipes that lead to the wastewater treatment plant.

Another way wastewater is collected is through catch basins. A catch basin is a chamber or well connected to storm or combined sewers as a means of collecting water. Catch basins also capture large grit before it enters the sewer pipes. If grit flows freely into the sewer system, it can contribute to sewer blockages. By using catch basins, grit is captured and can be cleaned from the system more easily than if it accumulates within the sewer pipes.


Industrial wastewater is sewage that results from any process of industrial, commercial, governmental, or institutional concerns, manufacturing, business, trade, or research including the development, recovery, and processing of natural resources, or from sources other than those described as domestic or residential sewage.

Groundwater and surface runoff may be considered industrial wastewater if contaminated with any industrial-process chemical constituents.

Industrial wastewater is subject to Federal Regulations developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and by NEORSD’s local Code of Regulations. Misconceptions abound about industries and the program designed to control what they may dispose of into the public sewer system.


Stormwater runoff affects sewer systems, stream networks, and our Great Lake.

In a combined sewer community, runoff entering the sewer system increases the volume of flow and can contribute to combined sewer overflows. In a separate sewer community, runoff affects water quality and contributes to higher stream volumes and flow velocities.

Ideally, managing stormwater where it falls helps protect the sewer system and improves stream health and water quality.