Understanding Our Sewer System
The City of Columbus treats residential and industrial sanitary waste from homes and businesses located in the city and most surrounding suburbs. The clean, treated water is discharged into the Scioto River. The underground system that conveys this wastewater to a treatment plant is made up of 167 miles of combined sewer and 2,782 miles of separate sanitary sewer pipe that transports wastewater to one of two treatment plants: Jackson Pike or Southerly. An additional 2,537 miles of pipe make up the stormwater collection system.
Jackson Pike Wastewater Treatment Plant serves the western half of Franklin County and the central portion of Columbus. Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant is responsible for treating wastewater from the eastern half of the county.
This system was the standard at the time it was built and was designed to carry both rain water and sewage to a treatment plant (Jackson Pike). It is found mostly in older sections of the city, such as downtown and the OSU campus area.
The remaining portions of the collection system are served by separate storm and sanitary pipes. In the sanitary system sewage is routed to either Jackson Pike or Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Rain water runoff and snow melt enter the storm sewer system through drainage ditches or through drains on the side of curbed streets. Anything in the water's path is washed into the storm sewer system, which empties directly into nearby creeks or rivers with no treatment.