Sewer FAQ'S


When it rains, the sewer backs up through the floor drain and floods my basement?

Please notify the city's 24-hour Sewer Maintenance Operation Center immediately by calling 311 or (614) 645-3111. While the problem may be in your private property line, you should always have a city crew check first for a blockage in the area before calling a plumber. There is no charge for the city to check the main sewer in the area, which they can do from the nearest manhole. If the problem is found to be with the city's sewer, you may qualify for the Project Dry Basement program that would prevent future back-ups.

I am having work done on my property and need to locate my home sewer line. Where can I obtain a map of the location?

Please visit the Sewer Permit Desk at 910 Dublin Rd, 3rd Floor, or call 614-645-7490.

Why are sewer charges higher than my water charges?

Treating wastewater is an expensive and involved process and it costs more to treat wastewater than to treat raw surface water. The revenue is used not only for treatment but also to maintain the collection system and to fund capital improvement projects.

I have well water and a septic system, no curb, gutter or storm drainage systems. Why do I receive a bill for stormwater fees?

Every property that has impervious (non-penetrable) surfaces, such as rooftops and asphalt, contributes to stormwater runoff from rain and melting snow. Everyone benefits from stormwater maintenance through the reduced likelihood of flooding in a community. If you own a vacant lot with no impervious areas that contains just grass and trees, you should not receive a stormwater bill for that property. For further questions, please call Customer Service through 311 or 614-645-3111.

Why is there often a sewer odor present in the downtown area?

Downtown Columbus and surrounding neighborhoods such as Victorian and German Villages are served by combined sewers, which was the building practice when those areas were developed. In a combined system, stormwater and wastewater flow to a single pipe. The storm drains on the street that allow the water to flow in unfortunately also allow odor to emit. The odor is often more prevalent in hot, dry weather. An engineering study is underway to identify solutions such as bio-filters to reduce the odor. As redevelopment opportunities are presented, the sewers are often separated.

Read about related projects, OARS/OSIS and LOT or learn more about Understanding Our Sewer System.

I need to dig on my property. Should I call someone before digging?

You should never dig on your property without calling your local utility to find out where buried utilities are located. If you are a city electric customer with underground utilities, contact our dispatch center at 614-645-7627 before you dig. We will let you know where your electric cable is located. If you’re an AEP customer, please contact The Ohio Utility Protection Service (OUPS) at 1-800-362-2764 or AEP at 1-800-277-2177.

If I see someone dumping potentially hazardous waste into a stream, river or storm drain, where should I call to report it?

Please call the Columbus Stormwater Hotline at 614-645-STREAM (7873) immediately and the Ohio EPA @ 1-800-282-9378.

Learn more about preventing water pollution, including many simple steps you can take at home to Keep It Clean

I have an area in my yard that stays wet or soggy after it rains. Is there anything that can be done?

This problem is typically due to a low area in the yard where the water collects and can't drain properly. Generally, it is the responsibility of the property owner to provide adequate grading to assure proper drainage away from the house and to direct stormwater runoff to the nearest storm sewer or drainage system.

Possible solutions to the problem include filling in the low area with soil, putting in a yard drain, or cutting a swale/ditch through the surrounding higher ground so the low area can drain out. In some cases, the property owners have blocked an existing drainage ditch with landscaping mounds, plantings, sheds or other structures.

In cases of significant yard flooding, the division will investigate and make a determination regarding possible solutions. Please notify Sewer Maintenance by calling 311 or 614-645-3111 and request a follow-up call. If the crew indicates they cannot do anything, you may wish to submit a Wet Basement and Neighborhood Flooding Questionnaire for future capital improvement project consideration.



Why is Columbus changing the plumbing code to require outside interceptors (where practical) in lieu of allowing PDI G101 certified grease traps in all applications?

Actually, the plumbing code is not being changed. The Division of Sewerage and Drainage is adding this requirement to the Sewer Use Ordinance. Columbus plumbing regulations previously contained a similar requirement and the Franklin County Code currently contains a similar requirement. The requirement is being added to the Sewer Use Ordinance because of concerns that PDI G101 certified grease traps are often not properly maintained. The performance standards for PDI G101 certified grease traps are based on removal rates of a lard-and-water mixture. The PDI G101 certification process does not address removal rates for other types of fats, oils, and grease or the presence of cleaning agents (emulsifiers). Additionally, larger outside interceptors allow for longer detention times which may help with removal rates. Larger interceptors also require less frequent maintenance.

Who will be required to install outside interceptors

Existing facilities will not be affected unless they remodel. Where feasible, new construction and kitchen remodels will be required to install an outside interceptor.

What is the cost for an outside interceptor?

Existing facilities will not be affected unless they remodel. Where feasible, new construction and kitchen remodels will be required to install an outside interceptor.

Are guidance materials available for preparing my BMP?

The Industrial Wastewater Pretreatment Section (IWPS) provides a standardized BMP form and grease trap/interceptor cleaning log with detailed instructions for preparation. You are not required to use the standardized format but using it will insure all required components are addressed. Additionally, IWPS can provide applicable samples from similar businesses that have been successful for your review, upon request. DOSD personnel are also available to answer questions.

Do I need to mail my BMP to DOSD?

No. It must be developed, put into regular practice and available for inspection upon request by the Columbus Division of Sewerage and Drainage or the Columbus Health Department.

What happens if I do not prepare or maintain my BMP or grease trap/interceptor cleaning log?

You will be in violation of the City’s Sewer Use Ordinance and the IWPS staff will take the necessary enforcement actions to insure compliance.

Why are these changes required?

Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) reduce the flow capacity of the sewers and cause blockages which can result in sewer overflows and back-ups into homes and businesses. The costs and negative environmental effects of not preventing the blockages are significant. Learn more about FOG.

What is the benefit for my business in participating in this program?

Beyond being in compliance with local ordinances and preventing the associated charge of $1500 or more for cost recovery, a good BMP should help prevent your sewer service from being interrupted by grease blockages downstream of the trap or interceptor. Proper, frequent cleaning of grease traps and interceptors will also reduce odors, make cleaning easier, and save your business unnecessary plumbing service calls. Learn more about FOG.