Surface Water Quality

​​​Sanitary Sewer Overflow​s​

​Charlotte Water is the City's department that is responsible for the collection and treatment of wastewater (sewage) from households and businesses in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.  On average, Charlotte Water collects over 30 billion gallons of wastewater annually through over 4,000 miles of pipes which it then treats at five wastewater treatment facilities. With the vast amount of wastewater transported through the large network of pipes, it may come as no surprise that some wastewater escapes the system. The good news is that 99.998% of wastewater is typically treated, but the bad news is that what does escape has negative impacts on streams and lakes. The most common way it escapes is through leaks in the system and sewage overflows. Sewage has high levels of bacteria and other microorganisms that are harmful to public health and aquatic life. Sewage that enters surface waters consumes oxygen in the water which can lead to fish kills.

To help locate sewage overflows into streams and lakes, Storm Water Services staff conducts extensive sampling in surface waters for fecal coliform bacteria, an indicator of sewage discharges. If results are above a specific action level, staff continues testing to determine if a sewage leak or overflow is suspected. If one is suspected, they notify Charlotte Water and work collaboratively to determine if the source is from their sewer collection system.