FAQs: Wastewater Management


What is wastewater management?

Wastewater management focuses on the control of water that is collected in discrete conveyances (also called point sources), including pipes, ditches and sanitary or storm sewers. It is the proper collection, treatment and discharge of domestic wastes from households and industries, in order to clean, protect and minimize adverse environmental and public health effects on the Potomac River and its tributaries. Wastewater from households and industries is collected in sanitary sewers, and usually treated at one of the treatment plants in our region. After treatment, the wastewater is discharged to its receiving water (e.g., a river, an estuary or an ocean).

Why are sewer service charges on my water bill?

Fairfax Water, City of Falls Church and Town of Vienna provide this combined bill for convenience and cost savings. The quarterly sewer service charge is determined by your water consumption during the prior winter quarter. Funds collected for sewer charges are then transferred to the Sanitary Sewer Fund, which is used to support the operations and maintenance of the collection system.

What is the sewer collection system?

The Fairfax County sewer collection system consists of approximately 3,200 miles of pipe. Your home or business is connected by a service line, called a sewer lateral, to the sanitary sewer system. The Wastewater Collection Division of the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services operates and maintains the collection system. Property owners are responsible for maintaining the sewer lateral.

What should I do if I have a sewer backup or other sewer trouble?

At the first sign of malfunctioning or damaged sewer lines, call the 24-Hour Trouble Response Center at 703-323-1211 or 703-239-8444, TTY 711. A Trouble Response inspector from the Wastewater Collection Division will inspect the county sewer.

  • If the problem is in the county sewer, the county will take corrective action.
  • The resident or building owner is responsible for resolving problems or damages resulting from blockages in the service line. This extends from the home/business to the county sewer, including the connection to the sewer. Contact your insurance carrier for information about sewer backup insurance, which is normally available at reasonable rates.


What can I do to help?
  • Do not pour cooking oils and grease down your household drains. Cooking oils and grease should be disposed of in the trash, as they may cause problems in your service line and possibly the county sewer.
  • Do not vandalize or tamper with sanitary sewer manholes. If you see anyone lifting manhole covers and putting objects such as sticks, logs, bricks, glass bottles, etc., down the manholes, please report it immediately. This tampering causes sewer blockages which result in sewer backups or overflows into homes and backyards. Report acts of vandalism or tampering with manholes to 703-323-1211 or 703-239-8444, TTY 711. Vandalism to the sewer collection system creates significant environmental problems and increased costs for county sewer rate payers. Your assistance will help in keeping your neighborhood from experiencing sewer backups and spills.


More questions?

Contact us by telephone at 703-324-5030, TTY 711, or email.


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