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Sanitary Sewer Main or Lateral Leak/Collapse

Property owners are responsible to maintain the sewer line from their building to where the pipe connects to the public sanitary sewer main.

How Do I Know if my Sewer Lateral Needs to be Repaired? 

  • Backup of sewage into a basement may be the result of a clogged pipe, broken sewer lateral, or tree roots.  Property owners need to contact a recognized business in the profession of sewer cleaning or plumbing to investigate the source of the backup. 
  • Public Works staff may identify problems with a lateral or main through routine maintenance of the sewer system, or as a result of pavement failure or sink hole. When staff identifies a problem in the field, the property owner is informed they need to have a professional look at their system.

Sewer Lateral Repair Grant Program

The City has established a Sewer Lateral Repair Grant Program to assist homeowners with costly sewer lateral repairs. The program funds eligible repairs up to $10,000.  Payment of a $500 deductible is required to participate in the program.

Refer to the Sewer Lateral Repair Grant Application for details on eligible repairs and applying for assistance with repairs to a sewer lateral.

Once the appropriate documents are received and eligibility under the program is confirmed, the City will contract the repairs to be performed. 

All work on sewer lines requires an excavation permit, and that work be conducted by a licensed, bonded and insured plumber, and is inspected prior to approval.  The contractor will take out these permits.

Sanitary Sewer Back-up or Overflow

What should I do if I have a sewer backup?

Call Public Works at 563.326.7923, 24/7.  After the City receives your information, crews will first check the public sewer main to determine if the main is the cause of the backup. If the public main is operating normally, the property owner is responsible to have their private sewer lateral inspected and cleaned or repaired, as needed, by a plumbing professional. 

If a plumbing professional determines your lateral needs to be repaired or replaced, the City does offer a Sewer Lateral Repair Grant Program to assist with the cost of eligible repairs and replacements, refer to the Sanitary Sewer Main or Lateral Leak/Collapse tab above.

What should I do after the problem is identified?

Once the problem has been identified and the repair process has been started, you will need to contact your insurance company and begin the cleanup process. Be sure to contact the insurance company prior to beginning the clean-up process, some insurance companies require specific photographs and other details for the claims process.  You may also be eligible for financial assistance under the City's No-Fault Sewer Backup Reimbursement Program.  You must contact your insurance company before submitting an application to this program.

What can I do to prevent a sewer backup?

Many sewer backups can be prevented.

Whether you have or have not experienced a sewer backup, it is always a good idea to protect your property by having a sewer check valve installed by a qualified plumbing professional. Having a sewer check valve provides you with the ability to shut the line off and may help avoid further contamination on your property.

Other prevention measures include:

  • Avoid placing fats, oils, grease, food scraps and wipes down the drain, refer to the AVOID THE FINANCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL DRAIN tab below for more details.
  • Avoid planting trees and shrubs over the private building sewer. The roots of trees, particularly Silver Maple and Willow trees will seek out the joints of the sanitary sewer and may clog the pipe in the long term.
  • Keep a lint trap in sinks that drain washing machines in place. It is easier to clean out the lint traps than it is to clean out the building sewer.

If You Smell Sewer Gas - Check to see if all sewer traps at the property are filled with water and check to see if the cap on the sewer cleanout is on tight. If the gas smell persists, call Public Works at 563.326.7923, 24/7.

Sanitary Sewer Maintenance Program

Picture of equipment used in sewer televisingDavenport’s wastewater collection and conveyance (sewer) system serves the entire City of Davenport. 

In addition, the system also receives and conveys wastewater to the Water Pollution Control Plant from the Cities of Bettendorf, Riverdale and Panorama Park.  A 28E Agreement for Joint Use of Sanitary Sewer and Sewage Disposal Facilities exists to accommodate wastewater from these adjacent cities.  

Management of the city’s 432-mile wastewater collection and conveyance system (sewer) system requires ongoing planning, improvement, maintenance, data collection and evaluation.  

Some of the many activities and programs used to maintain, restore and improve the sanitary sewer system and its capacity include:

Other maintenance activities and program include, but are not limited to: sewer backup and overflow response, illicit discharge detection and elimination, pump and lift station maintenance, industrial pretreatment, lift and pump station maintenance, and sewer gate/valve maintenance. 

AVOID THE FINANCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL DRAIN - Keep Fats, Oils, Grease & Wipes Out of the Sewer

When sewers become blocked, sewage can overflow onto streets and backup into homes causing damage to property and the environment. Sewer repair to remove blockages, and to clean up after a sewer backup occurs, is expensive.  

Avoid the Drain On: 

People  •  Property  •  Time  •  Money  •  Infrastructure  •  Environment

Avoid the Drain By:

  • Pouring fats, oils and grease into a disposable, re-sealable container such as an empty glass jar or coffee can. Once the material has cooled and solidified, secure the lid and place in the trash.   
  • Wiping greasy pots, pans and dishes down with a disposable paper towel to remove excess grease before washing or placing in the dishwasher.
  • Using a sink strainer to catch food scraps, preventing them from being washed down the drain.
  • Placing food scraps in the trash, or home composting pile.  Avoid putting large amounts of vegetable waste, through the garbage disposal at one time. Even though these materials will go through the garbage disposal, they may clog the private building sewer.
  • Keep a lint trap in sinks that drain washing machines in place. It is easier to clean out the lint traps than it is to clean out the building sewer
  • Don't flush disposable wipes down the toilet. Although they are advertised as "flushable", they are not biodegradable and can cause issues with the sewer lateral, the sewer main and at the wastewater treatment plant.
  • Know what goes in the trash, and what can be flushed.  
    • Just like flushable wipes, paper towels do not degrade like toilet paper, and when flushed can result in sewer blockage.  
    • Many of the chemicals contained in medications cannot be removed from water during the wastewater or potable drinking water process. Either place these items with trash or return to your local pharmacy for disposal.
    • Other items commonly flushed that can either cause/contribute to sewer blockages or poor water quality include, but is not limited to: cat litter, hypodermic needles, cloth, rags, dental floss, feminine products, plastic bags and bottles, condoms, diapers, cigar tips, and cigarette butts.


    If the building sewer serves a commercial establishment in which a grease trap is required, the grease trap should be cleaned periodically to prevent the solids from bypassing into the building sewer.  

    This brochure is a great resource for best practices in avoiding sewer backup in a commercial environment.

Storm Sewer Program

Davenport’s storm water collection and conveyance (storm sewer) system consists of 223 miles of storm sewer pipe, 8,741 catch basins and storm inlets, and 1,158 outfalls.

Unlike wastewater/sanitary sewage, storm water, and the material it carries (fertilizers, litter, grass, leaves and other material), is not cleaned before it is released back to the river, rather the water that reaches the storm sewer system is directly conveyed to the nearest creek or stream and eventually the Mississippi River.  It is important for all citizens to help reduce harmful materials carried in/by storm water for this reason.  Find out what you can do to prevent water pollution and clogged storm drains by visiting our Storm Water Run-off page.

Like the sanitary sewer system, the storm sewer system requires ongoing planning, improvement, and maintenance.

Some of the many activities and programs used to maintain, restore and improve the storm sewer system and its capacity include:


1200 E 46th St
Davenport, IA 52807