Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

How You Can Help Prevent Sewage Overflows

There are many ways you can help reduce sewage pollution from entering our waterbodies. Reducing water use and keeping everything but sanitary waste out of pipes reduces sewer backups and overflows and saves money in the long run.

Conserve Water

Conserving water can help reduce pollution of our waterbodies. More water used in our homes means more water treated at wastewater treatment facilities. Taking the following actions may help reduce the volume of water requiring treatment and decrease the potential for sewage overflows during storms:

  • Shut off faucets when not in use
  • Repair leaking faucets or pipes
  • Take shorter showers
  • Install low flow devices on faucets and showerheads and install low flow/dual flush toilets
  • Replace older dishwashers and washing machines with newer, more energy efficient and water conserving models
  • Use rainwater to water your gardens by installing rain barrels

Visit Saving Water Makes Good Sense for more tips on conserving water resources.

Don't Dump Fats, Oil and Grease Down Drains

Drainpipe buildup Town of Tyngsborough, MA
Don't dump fats, oils and grease down drains.
These build up in sewer pipes and can cause
sewers to overflow or backup into homes and
businesses. Image: Town of Tyngsborough, MA

The build-up of fats, oils and grease causes many collection system overflows. Grease, oils or fatty substances dumped down residential or restaurant kitchen sinks can build-up in sewer pipes.

These build-ups can cause Overflows or back-ups of sewage into homes. Instead of dumping them down the sink, allow fats, oils and grease to cool and dispose of them in the trash. Restaurants should install grease traps and collect used oil and grease for proper disposal.

What Not to Flush

Certain materials that are commonly flushed down the toilet or dumped into kitchen sinks can damage sewer systems and wastewater treatment equipment, even when they are labeled as flushable:

  • Diapers
  • Baby Wipes
  • Personal Hygiene Products

Do not flush any of these items, no matter how small, down the toilet. Throw them in the trash.

  • Important Links
  • PDF Help
  • For help with PDFs on this page, please call 518-402-8177.
  • Contact for this Page
  • Division of Water
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-3500
    Send us an email
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to all NYS regions