Sewer Systems 101: Understanding the Backbone of Upstate South Carolina’s Infrastructure

by | Feb 26, 2024

Many sewer systems across the globe are reaching the end of their lifespan, leading to leaks, collapses, and inefficiencies. Addressing this challenge requires significant investment in infrastructure upgrades and maintenance. But before diving into what that means, let’s get back to the basics. 

What is a sewer system? 

Sewer systems are the often unseen but critical backbone of urban infrastructure, responsible for safely transporting wastewater away from homes, businesses, and communities. There are three different types of sewer systems:

Sanitary sewers are designed to transport wastewater to treatment plants for purification. These underground systems consist of a network of pipes that use gravity and, in some cases, pumps to convey wastewater away from populated areas. Once at treatment plants, the wastewater undergoes a series of processes to remove contaminants before being safely returned back into the environment.

The second type is stormwater sewers, which handle rainwater runoff from streets, sidewalks, and other areas. In this case, the water does not get transported to a treatment facility. Instead, it is guided back to natural water sources.

Combined sewer systems are simply a combination of sanitary and stormwater sewers. These are often found in older cities and can become overwhelmed during heavy rainfall, leading to the discharge of untreated wastewater into the environment.

One of the biggest challenges facing sewer systems is aging infrastructure. The Clean Water Forward initiative is addressing this challenge to create a sustainable, well-maintained and reliable wastewater system.

Here’s where MetroConnects and ReWa come together and work in tandem.

MetroConnects maintains and improves infrastructure to collect wastewater and transport it to the treatment facilities of ReWa. 

Sewer systems are essential for public health, environmental protection, and quality of life in urban areas. By understanding how sewer systems work and the challenges they face,  we can better appreciate the importance of investing in their maintenance, modernization, and resilience for generations to come.