FAQs & Info

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Is Your Sewer Stopped Up?
What are the Two Systems?
How to Avoid Sewer Problems
How is the Sewer System Maintained?
How is the Storm Drain System Maintained?
Sewer Bill Problems and Concerns
Call Before You Dig Information  
Contact Information

Is Your Sewer Stopped Up?
If you have a sewer backup and you or your plumber suspect the problem is not in your lateral, you can call us at 775-334-2243 or after hours at 775-352-4249. Maintenance crews are available to respond to your sewer service problems seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

The City of Reno only maintains the City mains, the lateral or side sewer from the home or business out to the City main (see photo), is considered private and the responsibility of the property owner. If you are experiencing problems that can not be resolved by your plumber, call us so we can make sure the City system is functioning properly. 

We maintain only the sewer system inside the City of Reno Limits. Even if you’re not sure whether you’re in our service area, call us. If you’re not in our area, we can refer you to someone who can help.

What Are The Two Systems?
The Sewer and Storm Systems are two different systems.

Two Underground Systems Diagram

Sanitary Sewer System   
Household wastewater enters the sanitary sewer system and drains to a treatment facility.
Storm Drain System
Street surface runoff enters the storm drain system and drains directly to the Truckee River, untreated!

Sanitary Sewer System

Storm Drain System



The Sewer System
Every time you flush a toilet or run water down your sink, it ends up in the sewer system. The sewer system carries this waste water through a network of pipes to the waste water treatment facility. The City of Reno’s sewer system consists of 710 miles of pipes, 18,250 manholes and 27 pumping stations. The sewer main pipes are owned and maintained by the City, lateral pipes from homes or businesses, including the public right of way, are owned and maintained by the individual property owners. This system is essential for the health of all of its users. It is also a major safeguard for our environment.

The Storm System
The City of Reno’s storm system is a network of 419 miles of pipe, 9,396 catch basins and over 50 miles of natural drainage ditches. This system collects runoff from storm events and runoff from watering of lawns, etc. and transports the water to the Truckee River or other natural drainage areas. It is very important to remember that any material or fluid that runs into a storm drain will be headed toward the river or some other component of our ecosystem. It is imperative that we do everything we can to keep contaminates out of the storm system structures. 

How To Avoid Sewer Problems?
How to Avoid Costly Repairs when your Sewer Line Backs Up:
Sewer lateral pipes connect your house or business to the City Sewer in the street or easement. These pipes can become plugged from grease, rags, roots, toys, etc. Eventually this leads to a plugged sewer pipe that can cause sewer water to back up into your home or business damaging furniture, walls, and carpets. Here are a couple of tips on how to avoid this costly problem.


  • Dump leftover grease into a container, like an open soup can. Allow the grease to cool and solidify, then dispose of the can in your garbage.
  • Do not place paper towels, baby wipes, diapers, coffee grounds, dental floss, sanitary napkins, or other non-organic materials into the bathroom toilet or kitchen sink. Place them in an empty container or plastic bag and dispose in your garbage.
  • Tree roots are a typical problem with older sewer lines. The roots enter into the sewer lateral or main through small cracks in the pipes and small openings in the joints of the pipe. If you are experiencing blockages because of roots, your lateral should be repaired to prevent the roots from entering the pipe or place the lateral on a routine maintenance cleaning schedule to keep the roots out of the pipe.
  • Do not flush unwanted prescription drugs - Studies have shown that the drugs are not removed by sewage treatment plants and have the potential to enter surface and ground waters. Prescription drug drop boxes are located in the main lobby areas of the Reno Police Department, Sparks Police Department and Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. Citizens can drop off prescription pills, and over-the-counter medications, which will then be safely destroyed so that they cannot be abused and cannot harm our water supply through improper disposal. Liquids, sharps and inhalers are not accepted in the drop boxes, but residents can contact Nevada Hopes and the Northern Nevada Outreach team for proper disposal of syringes.  The Round Up is usually held twice a year in the Spring and Fall.  The next Round Up event will be on Saturday, April 30th, 2016. Note: Before throwing out medicine containers, scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information.


The Prescription Drug Round Up is held in the Spring and Fall each year.

  Please check back for dates and locations

For those unable to attend the Roundup Permanent Drop Boxes locations:

  • Reno Police Department on 455 E Second St. in Reno
  • Washoe County Sheriff’s Office on 911 Parr Blvd. in Reno
  • Sparks Police Department on 1701 E. Pater Way in Sparks

For information on how to dispose needles contact Northern Nevada HOPES at 775-348-2893


General Information 

Your sanitary sewer system is very much like your water heater; you don't think about it much until it doesn't work. Sewers are often taken for granted - out of sight, out of mind - until the out of sight part stops working.

If you have a sewer backup that you suspect the problem is outside your house and its lateral, call 334-2243 or after normal business hours please call 352-4249.

As a service, a crew will check to see if the backup is in the City's main, and if it is, they will clear the blockage. However, if the blockage is in the lateral serving the residence or business, it is the resident's/business owner’s responsibility to clear any blockage in the lateral line, which connects their property to the City sewer main. Several professional sewer maintenance and repair companies can be found in the phone book to accomplish this work.

Sewer Flusher Truck Near RiverHow Is the Sewer System Maintained?
Maintenance Program:
Maintaining the City’s 710 mile sewer system involves cleaning, inspecting, repairing, response to trouble calls and customer service requests. Regular cleaning of the sewer system is required to remove accumulated debris in the pipe such as sand, silt, grease, roots and rocks. If debris is allowed to accumulate, it reduces the capacity of the pipes and a blockage can eventually occur. Occasionally, excessive grease buildup and/or foreign material may cause a blockage and disrupt the flow in a city main line. This can result in backups and discharging sewer onto city streets, causing a major public safety issue. We have emergency plans and crews in place to respond and clear the problem. They also clean up and sanitize any affected areas. In most cases, our crews can be on scene in less than 30 minutes to take care of the problem and keep our public and environment safe.

Routine cleaning activities are scheduled to ensure the entire sewer system is cleaned every two years. Areas that are subject to heavy grease or debris accumulation are placed on a more frequent cleaning schedule. Routine cleaning is accomplished utilizing high pressure jetting equipment to flush debris and solids from the pipes. A variety of specialized cleaning methods are utilized according to the conditions found within each pipe.


Closed Caption TV  Sewers TruckThe City of Reno also utilizes 2 state of the art CCTV (closed circuit television) units to inspect the inside of the sewer systems pipes. A motorized camera is inserted into the sewer pipe and a video image through a cable to a system inspector. The inspector records the video and provides maintenance staff with information to determine the appropriate level of maintenance.

Catch Basin


How is the Storm Drain System Maintained?
The City of Reno currently has three trucks assigned to cleaning out all of the 9,396 catch basins within the City. Catch basins are designed with a sump to trap debris and keep it from entering the system piping.

The debris trapped in the sump must be removed as part of routine maintenance to ensure proper operation and flow is maintained. The debris is removed utilizing a cleaning truck that vacuums the debris through a large tube into the truck. Truck by CurbOur crews remove approximately 10-30 yards of material per day that would otherwise polute our river and/or other drainage paths.

The City maintains drainage facilities and open drainage ways within the City limits. Typical maintenance consists of debris and vegetation removal, burning, mowing, herbicide application and re-grading ditches.

The daily activities of our Sewer and Storm maintenance crews provide a huge, and often unnoticed, public safety and environmental service to our community.

Sewer Bill Problems and Concerns
Visit the Sewer Section of our website.

Call Before You Dig Information
Call 811 or 1-800-227-2600
Whether you’re a homeowner or professional excavator, if you are going to dig you must call USA North, the one call center serving Northern and Central California and Nevada.  In addition to your personal safety and the safety of others, calling before you dig is about protecting the vital buried facilities that supply electric, gas, water, cable and more to our homes, schools, facilities and businesses. Remember, it’s the law and it is free. Refer to Nevada Regulatory Statute 455.080-422.180 for liability risk. There are fines up to $100k for violations of these state laws. USA North requires two (2) working days notice. All sanitary sewer lines and manholes are included in this requirement.  Sewer maintenance personnel perform approximately 1,000 locates per month including emergency and after hour locates.

Typical proposed excavation City of Reno utility marker
Locate Chalk on Road Pipeline Caution Sign

Contact Information 
For any questions or concerns within the City of Reno, please contact Reno Direct at 334-4636 or email them at RenoDirect@reno.gov.


For further information regarding the City of Reno, Sewer and Storm System Maintenance, please call Public Works Maintenance and Operations, Corporation Yard, 775-334-2243 Monday-Friday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

Emergency Numbers:
After Hours: 775-352-4249
Sewer Overflows, Street Flooding, Storm Drain Blockage, Drainage Ditch Problems

Remember, Call Before You Dig at 811 or 1-800-227-2600