Sanitary Sewers

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What is a Sanitary Sewer?
A sanitary sewer is a type of underground system that carries sewage from houses or industries to sewage treatment facilities.

Ideally sanitary sewer systems are operated separately from stormwater systems but when sewers carry both sewage and stormwater together they are called combined sewers.

Sewers are usually pipelines that begin with connecting pipes from buildings to one or more levels of larger underground trunk mains, which transport the sewage to sewage treatments facilities. Vertical pipes, called manholes, connect the mains to the surface. The manholes are used for access to the sewer pipes for inspection and maintenance. They also facilitate vertical and horizontal angles in otherwise straight pipelines. Sewers are generally gravity powered, though pumps may be used if necessary.

Private Property Protection Program
The City of Des Moines offers residents who have contracted with a licensed plumber, and paid for eligible costs, for the redirection of one or more eligible sources of infiltration and inflow to an outlet other than the sanitary sewer system or to install a backwater valve on the private sewer service to protect against surcharges on the public sewer system. With the  Private Property Protection Program, the City will reimburse 100% of the cost, up to $1,500, to property owners who meet the requirements. 

Best Flushing Practices
Municipal wastewater collection systems and treatment plants are designed to transport and treat household sewage and associated organic contaminants using physical, chemical, and biological processes. Unfortunately, our society has become accustomed to flushing many other waste products down the drain which end up creating problems in the public sewer system, clogging lift station pumps, or even passing through the entire treatment system only to end up the environment.

Items NOT to be Flushed:

  • Baby wipes (even those labeled flushable)
  • Bandages
  • Cigarette butts
  • Cleaning wipes, facial wipes, and makeup removal pads
  • Condoms
  • Cotton swabs and cotton balls
  • Dental floss
  • Disposable diapers and nursing pads
  • Disposable toilet brushes
  • Fat, oil, and grease (FOG)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hair
  • Household hazardous wastes (paint, oil chemicals, fuel, etc.)
  • Kitty litter (even brands labeled as flushable)
  • Needles / syringes
  • Over the counter drugs / medicines
  • Paper towels, rags, tissues
  • Personal care products
  • Prescription drugs / medications

For more information on how to properly dispose such things as Fat, Oil and Grease (FOG), household hazardous waste, unused drugs/medications and wipes, you can visit our wastewater plant's website.

Sanitary Sewer Utility Rates
Sanitary Sewer Fee Rate Increase-Inside City
Sanitary Sewer Fee Rate Increase-Outside City