Management of Combined Sewer Overflows

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Most large municipal sewer systems in NYS consist of combined sewers in older downtown urban areas with separate sanitary and storm sewers serving outlying suburban areas. This is a decrease from about in , due to CSO abatements completed by the permittees. As part of the permittees long-term control plan, municipalities present options to reduce the frequency and volume of CSO discharges.


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However these options can be expensive and may be cost prohibitive for some communities. Some options include:.

Science Inventory

Your browser does not support iFrames. If you accidently go in the water, near a CSO location, during or after a heavy rain, avoid getting water in your mouth, and wash yourself with hot water and soap as soon as possible. Most people will not get sick by just getting untreated overflow water on their skin. There is a chance that pathogens bacteria and viruses in untreated overflow water could make you sick, especially if you are already sick or have lower immunity. In general, young children and elderly people may have a higher risk of getting sick from untreated overflow water.

What if my dog goes in the water near a CSO sign? Animals are usually not affected, but if your pet does go in the water near a CSO location during or after heavy rains, bath the animal with hot water and soap as soon as possible. If your pet is very young or old, it could be at higher risk for getting sick by being exposed to untreated overflow water.

If your animal develops diarrhea, you should withhold food, and consult your veterinarian. Can I eat fish or crabs collected from water contaminated with sewage?

Wastewater Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) - City of Spokane, Washington

Finfish and Crabs : Evidence suggests that eating fish or crabs taken from water contaminated with sewage will not result in any known health effects as long as standard hygiene measures are followed. This includes washing your hands with warm water and soap after handling fish or crabs, thoroughly washing fish with clean water before cooking, and cooking using correct times and temperatures. Take care when cleaning the fish by keeping internal organs away from fillets or meat of the fish.

Addressing Combined Sewer Overflows

Wash fillets or meat with clean water after cleaning the fish. Fisherman may want to avoid fishing in areas where sewage overflows have occurred due to the potential for incidental contact with the contaminated water.

If you do decide to fish in an area that has been posted with warning due to a sewage overflow, consider wearing gloves when handling fish taken from the water. Also try to avoid other contact with the water or shoreline sediments and wash your hands after any contact. Shellfish: Clams, Oyster, and Mussels: In contrast to the recommendations for finfish and crustacean shellfish such as crabs, molluscan shellfish, such as clams, oyster, and mussels taken from water contaminated with sewage DO have the potential to make people sick if consumed.

Bivalve molluscan shellfish are filter-feeding organisms that pump large quantities of seawater through their bodies as a part of the normal feeding process. As a result, any microorganisms, including human pathogens present in the growing area, can become concentrated in shellfish meats by as much as times that found in the water column. Sewage contamination is the main source of human pathogens in shellfish growing waters and the correlation between sewage pollution and disease has been well demonstrated.

In order to ensure the safety of shellfish for human consumption, shellfish growing areas are classified based on evidence of contamination.


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  6. CSO discharges are considered a direct source of pollution which requires that these waterbodies be classified as Prohibited to shellfishing at all times, not just after a CSO event. Shellfish harvested from CSO areas are never safe for human consumption.


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    The classification of waters for the harvest of shellfish such as clams, oysters and mussels is regulated by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture Bureau of Aquaculture, however, each municipality within the State sets its own shellfisheries regulations including species, size restrictions, harvest limits, closures and fees. In Connecticut, you should only harvest shellfish recreationally from areas that you have a permit for, and individuals should always check the status of these areas prior to harvesting to make sure that the areas are open.

    Again: Any waterbody that has a CSO outfall is considered Prohibited to recreational shellfishing at all times.

    Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO)

    For more information on recreational shellfishing, please visit the Connecticut Department of Agriculture Bureau of Aquaculture website. How much rain does it take for a CSO discharge to occur? It varies among CSO locations, depending on how the system was designed and built. Some locations will have CSO discharges during a moderate storm, while other locations will only overflow during the heavier and longer storms.

    How long does water stay impacted after a rain event? After rain stops, it can take up to 48 hours 2 days for the water near the CSO to return to baseline conditions. During this time, the bacteria die off and the currents dilute the germs and chemicals in the water. Are CSOs the only potential source of pollution to our receiving water bodies? There are two general types of pollution sources to surface water bodies: point sources and non-point sources.

    Point Sources Point sources are discrete pipes that discharge directly to water. DEEP uses both individual and general permits to regulate discharge activities. Individual permits are issued directly to an applicant, general permits are issued to authorize similar minor activities by one or more applicants. Authorization of an activity under a general permit is governed by that general permit. DEEP issues discharge permits in three major categories.

    While the process for each is similar, specific application requirements may vary:. Examples of permitted but treated discharges to rivers or the Long Island Sound include: municipal wastewater treatment plant effluent, permitted industrial wastewater discharge, and CSOs. That diffuse pollution is called nonpoint source, which means it comes from many different points of origin.

    Pollution sources, such as failing septic systems, pet and other animal waste, drainage from outdoor washing activities, or stormwater running off of roofs and pavement often contribute pollutants to the runoff that may end up in surface waters.

    The Challenge

    If pollutants from these nonpoint sources are in high enough concentrations or flows, the surface waters may become impaired. Pollutant levels, or loadings, from many nonpoint sources are closely linked to rainfall, snowmelt or other weather conditions which cause stormwater runoff. In Connecticut stormwater runoff from urban areas and construction activities are two of the most significant categories of nonpoint source pollution. What can I do to keep local water safe and clean?