Keeping raw sewage & contaminated stormwater out of the public’s water


Among the greatest challenges to the goals of fishable and swimmable waters are discharges and overflows of raw sewage into waters. Many of the sewer systems in New York State and New Jersey and some in Puerto Rico are combined systems that carry sewage from homes and businesses as well as rainwater collected from street drains. When they overflow during heavy rains, the rainwater mixes with sewage and results in raw sewage being directly discharged into water bodies. This can pose serious environmental and public health risks. EPA has developed this report to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about combined sewer overflows and to raise awareness about this important water quality issue.