Sanitary Sewer System

DC Water manages wastewater collection and transmission in the District of Columbia, including operation and maintenance of the sanitary sewer system. DC Water's sanitary sewer system includes approximately 600 miles of large interceptor sewers and smaller gravity collection sewers, for a total of about 1,800 miles of sewer pipes.

DC Water also administers sewer lateral connections from the sewer mains to the property lines of residential, government, and commercial properties. In addition, DC Water runs the 50-mile Potomac Interceptor System, which provides conveyance of wastewater from areas in Virginia and Maryland to Blue Plains.

The existing sewer system in the District dates back to 1810, and includes a variety of materials such as brick and concrete, vitrified clay, reinforced concrete, ductile iron, plastic, steel, brick, cast iron, cast-in-place concrete, and even fiberglass.

The Sewer Inspection Program

The Sewer Inspection Program provides for inspections of miles of sewers each year in an ongoing effort to assess sewer conditions. The information we collect will enable us to schedule and prioritize sewer main line and lateral repair work.

Sewer Pumping Stations

Anacostia Sewer Pumping Station
Anacostia Sewer Pumping Station

DC Water has sixteen storm pumping stations and nine sanitary and combined sewer pumping stations and one swirl facility. The names of the eight sewer pumping stations are:

  • Main Pumping Station
  • O Street Pumping Station
  • Potomac Pumping Station
  • East Side Pumping Station
  • Rock Creek Pumping Station
  • Upper Anacostia Pumping Station
  • Poplar Point Pumping Station
  • Earl Place Pumping Station
  • 3rd & Const. Pumping Station

The Importance of Pumping Stations

East Side Pumping Station
East Side Pumping Station

The importance of sewer pumping stations is to ensure uninterrupted conveyance of flow to a treatment plant and to prevent overflow in buildings, streets and waterways.

The importance of the storm pumping stations is to prevent street flooding during times of heavy rain.

What Pumping Stations Do

Main Sewer Pumping Station
Main Sewer Pumping Station

The sewer system is intended to work primarily by gravity, which means it is designed so that wastewater flows downhill from the source to the treatment plant. However, because of varying topography it is sometimes necessary to lift the water at various locations in the city, using electric pumps. From there, gravity can again take over and continue the flow toward the plant.

The storm stations collect rainwater from roadways and surrounding drainage areas and convey flow to the nearest river or stream.

Potomac, O Street and Main Pumping Stations are manned 24/7/365 by personnel from the Sewer Services Department. The remaining pumping stations are inspected on a daily basis to make sure they are operating properly. DC Water Maintenance Branch makes any needed repairs.

Sewer Related Links

What can you find in this section?

What We Do