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Engineering Department
Civil Engineering Division
Stormwater Engineering Division
Traffic Engineering Division
Clean Water Act
NPDES Program
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City of Knoxville
Engineering Department
Stormwater Engineering Division

Sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) are a violation of NPDES permits that are issued by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

What is an SSO?

A sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) is raw untreated sewage that discharges from the sanitary sewer system without first passing through a wastewater treatment plant. A typical SSO may occur at a manhole during wet weather, but can also occur in dry weather for a variety of reasons. An SSO is a public health hazard and a violation of federal, state and local discharge regulations.

Typical signs of an SSO include:

  • Water flowing from manholes
  • Toilet paper or other "flushables"
  • Smell of sewage
  • An unusually steady flow of water
  • Residues, stains, or discolorations
  • Displaced manhole lids

    Oftentimes, the SSO discharge may not look or smell unusual. The toilet paper may have been "filtered" within the sewer pipe or somewhere upstream. Or the discharge may be diluted by groundwater or surface water infiltration.

    How you can learn more:

    PDF Files
    EPA - Raw Sewage Enforcement Alert
    Benefits of Protecting Your Community From SSOs
    Sanitary Sewer Overflows (EPA 832-K-96-001)
    EPA Web Site: Overview of Sanitary Sewer Overflows
    EPA Web Site: Fact Sheets and Outreach Materials

    What you should do:

  • Avoid all contact with SSO discharges.

  • Discourage children from playing in it.

  • Report the SSO immediately to KUB
    switchboard at 865-524-2911.

  • Report the SSO to local TDEC office
    at 865-594-6035 and to the City of Knoxville
    Water Quality Hotline at 865-215-4147
    during business hours.

  • Take notes and pictures to document
    the SSO problem for authorities.

  • If you do not get satisfactory results
    with the steps above, please contact
    the US Environmental Protection
    Agency at: 404-562-9724.
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