Sewer systems vary in their design as they must account for population served, commercial AND industrial flows, and wet weather flows. Generally there are two types of sewers: combined sewer systems and sanitary sewer systems. Combined sewer systems transport both stormwater runoff and sewage in the same pipe. Combined sewer systems create more water pollution because they cannot handle overflows, which leak into lakes and rivers. Seperate sanitary sewer systems transport only sewage and there is a seperate pipe for runoff, which goes directly into surface water. Most system today are constructed in this manner, but about 772 communities in the United States have combined sewer systems which serve about 40 million Americans.
The main way that cities “get rid” of sewage is by simply sending it somewhere else. Every cities sewer system is different, but a majority of sewage goes to sewage treatment plants where it can be turned into a “clean” substance. Once this treated solution is created, along with sludge that is not so treated, it is usually pumped in to the ocean or other large bodies of water. This is why it is so important that chemicals and toxic materials not be placed in sewer systems as it could negatively impact the health of the ocean.
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