Keep Storm Drains and Sanitary Sewer Lines Flowing

Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
Contact: Merni Fitzgerald, Director of Public Affairs
703-324-3187, TTY 711, Fax 703-324-2010
Media Pager: 703-324-NEWS (6397)

March 5, 2008

Tips for Homeowners for
Keeping Storm Drains and Sanitary Sewer Lines Flowing

While cleaning gardens for spring, residents should keep public storm drains and sanitary sewers clear of leaves, grass clippings, sticks, rocks and trash. Fairfax County officials are issuing this reminder because these items can cause blockages in storm drains and sewers.

If swept into a storm drain, yard waste or trash can end up in nearby creeks or steams, polluting the environment. These same items can block public sanitary sewer lines, potentially causing sewage backups in homes.

Residents also can take steps to keep their private sewer lines flowing freely. Homeowners are responsible for their lateral sewer lines, which connect their home to the county’s sewer system. These tips can help prevent blockages:

  • Don’t put cooking oils and grease down a garbage disposal or any household drain. Fats, oils or grease can build up in the system, potentially creating a blockage.
  • Don’t flush disposable diapers, tampons or sanitary napkins down the toilet — even if the labels indicate that it is acceptable to do so.

Most insurance policies do not automatically cover damage caused by flooding or sewer backups. Homeowners and renters can contact their insurance companies to ask for this additional protection.

If homeowners experience a sewage backup, call Fairfax County’s Wastewater Collection Division’s 24-hour, emergency line at 703-323-1211, TTY 703-239-8498. For non-emergency concerns, call 703-250-2003, TTY 703-239-8489. County staff can determine if the blockage is located in the county’s sewer lines or in the homeowner’s private lines.


Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs, services and activities. To request this information in an alternate format, call the Office of Public Affairs at 703-324-3187, TTY 711.

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