When wastewater can’t move freely through the Sewer System due to a blockage or break, it can cause sewer backups into your home and flooding in local neighborhoods. The most common cause of sewer backups in New York City is blocked pipes due to the improper disposal of grease, wipes and other trash down toilets and sinks.
What to Do if You Experience a Sewer Backup
If raw sewage is backing up into your home, report it to 311 or fill in this online form.
You must provide your contact information so we can contact you, if necessary. We will not be able to investigate your complaint without accurate contact information. Please keep records of your 311 Tracking Number (begins with 311- ) and DEP Customer Service Request Number (CSR#), if you receive one.
It is important to thoroughly clean and disinfect inside your home after a flood or sewer backup. Floodwater may contain sewage water and germs. Direct exposure may infect your eyes, skin, stomach or intestines.
Learn more about Sewer Backup and Flood Clean-Up.
How DEP Responds to Sewer Backup Complaints
We will inspect the location within six hours of receiving the 311 complaint. Heavy rainfall or large snowmelts may cause inspection delays.
If we confirm a backup in the City’s sewer system, we will start the repair process. If we cannot confirm the location or cause of the backup, we may perform a flush of the system to ensure it is working properly.
If we confirm the backup was due to an issue with your private sewer service line, you will be issued a Notice to Repair. Property owners own and are responsible for maintaining and repairing their sewer service line, which connects their property to the City’s sewer main in the street. Repairs could be covered under your homeowners insurance or DEP’s Service Line Protection Program, if you are currently enrolled.
Learn more about DEP’s Service Line Protection Program.
If you believe the City was at fault for damages incurred during a sewer backup, please contact the New York City Comptroller’s Office within 90 days to file a claim. If the condition occurred during heavy rain, you do not need a DEP Customer Service Request Number (CSR#) to file a claim with the Comptroller's Office against the City.
Learn more about filing a claim with the New York City Comptroller’s Office.
Property Owner Responsibility for Sewer Service Line Maintenance
Property owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing their sewer service lines, which connect their property to the City’s sewer main in the street. Repairs could be covered under your homeowners insurance or DEP’s Service Line Protection Program, if you are currently enrolled.
Learn more about the Service Line Protection Program.
What DEP Does to Prevent Sewer Backups
We operate and maintain 7,500 miles of sewer lines that bring an average of 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater per day to 14 in-city wastewater resource recovery facilities. Over the last decade, we have embraced a data-driven, proactive approach to operating and maintaining the Sewer System. By using a range of digital tools and innovative practices, we have developed targeted programs to provide a high level of service to our customers while focusing on investments that will prioritize our resources.
Because New York City has more than 148,000 catch basins to collect storm water runoff from streets and sidewalks, we also have a rigorous sewer and catch basin inspection, analysis, and cleaning program, which has produced improvements in the level of sewer service citywide.
New York City needs the help of all its residents to keep our sewer system running properly, which is why we launched the “Trash It. Don’t Flush It.” campaign to warn New Yorkers of the hazards of flushing grease, wipes, and other trash down the drain. The public behavior campaign included subway station dominations in strategic locations, bus shelter ads, bus cards, a television commercial, and targeted social media and web advertising. The campaign garnered more than 95 million impressions and more than 150,000 website visits. Door-to-door outreach efforts reached more than 30,000 people and we also conducted grease compliance inspections at dozens of food establishments.