Sewage is created by residential, institutional, and commercial and industrial establishments and includes household waste liquid from toilets, baths, showers, kitchens, sinks and so forth that is disposed of via sewers. In many areas, sewage also includes liquid waste from industry and commerce. The separation and draining of household waste into grey water and black water is becoming more common in the developed world, with grey water being permitted to be used for watering plants or recycled for flushing toilets.Most sewage also includes some surface water from roofs or hard-standing areas and may include stormwater runoff.
Sewerage systems capable of handling stormwater are known as combined systems or combined sewers. Such systems are usually avoided since they complicate and thereby reduce the efficiency of sewage treatment plants owing to their seasonality. The variability in flow also leads to often larger than necessary, and subsequently more expensive, treatment facilities.In addition, heavy storms that contribute more flows than the treatment plant can handle may overwhelm the sewage treatment system, causing a spill or overflow. Modern sewer developments tend to be provided with separate storm drain systems for rainwater. As rainfall travels over roofs and the ground, it may pick up various contaminants including soil particles and other sediment, heavy metals, organic compounds, animal waste, and oil and grease.Some jurisdictions require stormwater to receive some level of treatment before being discharged directly into waterways.
Examples of treatment processes used for stormwater include retention basins, wetlands, buried vaults with various kinds of media filters, and vortex separators (to remove coarse solids). Sanitary sewers are typically much smaller than storm sewers, and they are not designed to transport stormwater. In areas with basements, backups of raw sewage can occur if excessive stormwater is allowed into a sanitary sewer system.
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