Wastewater FAQ



Wastewater management focuses on the proper collection, treatment and discharge of domestic wastes from households and industries, in order to clean, protect the public health and minimize adverse environmental 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 a tributary of the Potomac River.

Fairfax Water and Town of Vienna provide this combined bill for convenience and cost savings. The quarterly sewer service charge for residential customers is determined by your water consumption during the prior winter quarter which represents water used indoors and excludes water used for irrigation, washing cars, etc. that does not enter the sewer system. 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 and the treatment plants.

The Fairfax County sewer collection system consists of approximately 3,300 miles of pipe and 63 pumping stations. 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.

  • 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, 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.
  • Do not flush wipes, even those labeled as flushable, or other items such as feminine hygiene products, cotton balls, cotton swabs, and dental floss. These should be disposed of in the trash as they may cause problems in your service line or possibly the county sewer.

Some regional parks have disposal locations. The Noman M. Cole Pollution Control Plant accepts RV waste from county residents, but requires prior notification so an escort can be provided.

See list of disposal locations that are available online.

If swimming pool water is released improperly, it may have a negative effect on the environment. Guidelines for swimming pool discharges can be found on the Proper Discharge of Swimming Pool Water webpage. For more information, email the Stormwater Planning Division or call 703-324-5500, TTY 711. Commercial swimming pool operators should call the Health Department at 703-246-2300, TTY 711.

When public sewer is not available, a septic system may be installed with the approval from Fairfax County Division of Environmental Health. For more information on septic systems, please visit the Division of Environmental Health website or call them at 703-246-2201, TTY 711.

Homeowners whose septic systems are failing, and deemed non-repairable by the Division of Environmental Health, will be required to connect to sewer if the property is within 300 feet of available public sanitary sewer.

For failing septic systems where sanitary sewer is not available, property owners should contact the Division of Environmental Health for available alternatives.

All outhouses in use today in Fairfax County have been grandfathered. All new construction will be required to have a sewage disposal system that is approved under the current codes.

Please visit Land Records Division of the Fairfax County Courts or call 703-691-7320.

Business and Industry

Business and Industry

Not every industrial discharger is required to have a permit, but all dischargers must be in compliance with the Fairfax County Sewer Use Ordinance (Chapter 67.1 Sanitary Sewers and Sewage Disposal). Permits are issued to federally regulated industries (Categorical Industrial Users), dischargers with volumes of process wastes greater than 25,000 gallons per day, or any discharger with the potential to negatively impact the sanitary sewer system. See discharge approval/permits.

The Sanitary Sewers and Sewage Disposal Chapter (67.1) of the Fairfax County Code prohibits the discharge of substances that can adversely affect the sanitary sewer system and the wastewater treatment process.

Prohibited substances (see Article 2 of the Fairfax County Code) include acidic and caustic waste that can corrode sewers, viscous substances such as fats, oils and grease that can block sewers and cause overflows and backups, chemicals that can cause a fire or explosion, noxious or malodorous materials that can present a health and safety menace, petroleum oils in concentrations that exceed 100 parts per million (ppm), medical wastes, and hazardous/toxic wastes.

Fairfax County is divided into sewer service areas that discharge to six regional wastewater treatment plants (the County’s Noman M. Cole, Jr. Pollution Control Plant, District of Columbia’s Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, Upper Occoquan Service Authority’s Regional Water Reclamation Plant, Alexandria Renew Enterprises’ Water Resource Recovery Facility, Arlington County’s Water Pollution Control Plant, and Prince William County Service Authority’s Advanced Water Reclamation Facility).

Fairfax County wastewater discharges to these jurisdictions must meet additional discharge standards (local limits) that are specific to the respective wastewater treatment plants. See discharge limits/regulations.

Fairfax County Health Department issues license to haulers. Please visit Permit Applications, Forms and Resources page of Fairfax County Health Department or call 703-246-2201 Septic and Well customer service center.

Groundwater from remediation projects is not allowed into the sanitary sewer unless approved by Fairfax County Industrial Waste Section. Groundwater can be disposed of to the storm sewer after obtaining a permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Additionally, you must contact Fairfax County Fire & Rescue for any groundwater remediation project. If the project is within the Towns of Clifton, Herndon, Vienna, or the cities of Falls Church or Fairfax; you must contact those jurisdictions.

Wastewater can be discharged into a sink or floor drain after the carpet fibers or hair have been screened or filtered from the wastewater. This prevents the sanitary sewer from becoming clogged due to the fibers.

No, septage is not considered industrial waste (see Fairfax County Code Chapter 67.1-1-3) is not considered industrial waste. About 32% of the waste received at our facility is hauled from homes and about 11 % is domestic-natured wastewater hauled from businesses that are not connected to the sanitary sewer. About 24,000 homes in Fairfax County use septic tanks instead of connections to the county’s sanitary sewers. The Health Department requires septic tanks to be pumped out every five years. Hauled industrial wastes are not allowed unless the waste is specifically authorized. Contact the Industrial Waste Section for more information: IndustrialWaste@fairfaxcounty.gov.

No, septage transport trucks are prohibited from carrying hazardous waste. Fairfax County's Health Department inspects and registers the trucks owned and operated by pump and haul contractors to ensure compliance with Chapter 68.1 of the County Code and Virginia's Sewage Handling and Disposal Regulations (12 VAC 5-610-10 et seq.).

For information about the process for converting a cooling tower from storm sewer to sanitary sewer, please see Cooling Towers page.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant