Many utilities and cities across the nation operate combined sewer systems, meaning all wastewater, including stormwater and runoff, are collected and transported in the same pipes. Jackson’s sewer system is not combined but a separate system managed by two separate entities. Jackson Energy Authority operates and maintains the sanitary sewer while the City of Jackson Stormwater Division operates and maintains the storm sewer. Although the two are commonly confused as one, mistaking one for the other can have damaging effects on the environment as well as the function behind it.
A sanitary sewer carries sewage from homes and businesses to wastewater treatment plants through a gravity-fed network of underground pipes. The wastewater originates from bathrooms, sinks, kitchens and other plumbing sources. It is treated following rigorous state and federally mandated regulations so that the water that enters the creeks, rivers or oceans is safe and clean.
A storm sewer carries water runoff through an underground network of pipes to nearby rivers, creeks or the ocean in some areas. The runoff originates from rainwater, melting snow, rinse water from washing vehicles at home or other water sources that enter through storm drains. The water is untreated, so the water that enters the creeks, rivers or oceans is the same water that entered the sewer.
Proper care of both sanitary and storm sewers helps keep our community healthy and our environment protected.