Frequently Asked Questions

I had a backup and the District said it was my responsibility. Who is responsible for what?

The property owner is responsible for the maintenance of the house connection (building drain) from the structure up to and including the connection to the main sewer lateral line which is normally in the street in front of the residence. When a backup call is received, District personnel will respond and if the stoppage is in our lateral it will be cleared immediately. If the cause is in the house connection (building drain) the property owner will be notified that they need to have their line cleaned.

Why can’t I put fats, oil or grease into the drain?

When these materials, particularly grease, are poured into a drain and start to cool, they adhere to the inside of sewer pipes, reducing their inside diameter. This grease build up may block an entire pipe, which can lead to raw sewage backing up into homes and businesses.

How am I supposed to dispose of fats, oils, and greases if I cannot put them into the sewer system?

Dispose of these materials by placing them in a container or can and dispose of it with the regular trash collection.

Can I install a sump pump in my basement to handle groundwater and connect the discharge to the sewer line?

It is illegal and a violation of the District’s Sewer Use Ordinance to introduce storm water, roof drainage, and/or groundwater into the sanitary sewer system.

Why is all of this so important?

Every gallon of sewage must be treated at the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) and then discharged to Manhasset Bay, meeting strict quality regulations and limits set by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC). Every gallon of groundwater or storm runoff introduced into the system increases the processing costs. The addition of this basically clean water also tends to dilute the strength of the raw sewage entering the WWTP and this can have negative impacts on the efficiency of biological systems used to treat the sewage before discharge.

Why install nitrogen removal facilities? Where does the nitrogen come from?

This reduction of effluent nitrogen is a NYS DEC mandated project. While nitrogen is an important nutrient in aquatic ecosystems, large amounts can have detrimental effects. A simple way of understanding the process is to consider our normal effluent as a pretty effective liquid fertilizer. It encourages and aids in the development and growth of aquatic plants in the spring as the waters of the Bay and Long Island Sound start to warm.

As these plants start to die off in late summer and fall, their decay uses large quantities of the dissolved oxygen in the water which can result in areas lacking in the desired amounts of dissolved oxygen. The nitrogen in our sewage primarily comes from protein sources and is discharged into the system through human waste. Nitrates are added to the meats we purchase to preserve the red color and to prevent the formation of toxins. A nitrogen compound NTA is also found in detergents that are used in our homes.

Where else does nitrogen come from?

Nitrogen and other chemicals such as phosphorus and carbon are introduced to the Bay and Sound ecosystems from the storm water runoff affected by the fertilizers we use on our lawns and gardens. It will also be found in the animal wastes that are washed away during rainstorms.

Will my homeowner’s insurance protect me in the event there is a sewage backup into my home?

Coverage for Backup of Sewers and Drains is available as a rider to most homeowners policies, but is not normally included in the base policy. Everyone should check to see whether they have this coverage as part of their homeowners policy.

Could I get a waiver on installing the sanitary backflow device in my basement?

​The Port Washington Water Pollution Control District has no jurisdiction to override the plumbing codes of an Incorporated Village, the Town of North Hempstead and the New York State.

Avoiding Back Ups

Get your tips on avoiding sewage back ups.