Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs)

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WHAT IS A SANITARY SEWER OVERFLOW (SSO)?

A sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) is an unintentional overflow, spill, release, discharge, or diversion of untreated or partially treated sewage from the City’s public sanitary sewer. During an SSO event, sewage flows out of the City’s public sewer and may discharge to roadways, drainage structures, waterways, and/or public or private property.

Is it a Sewer Backup or AN SSO…What’s the Difference?

SSO: An overflow or unintentional discharge of untreated sewage from the City’s public sewers. 

Sewer backup: Clogged or failed private service lines or interior plumbing causing a discharge of untreated sewage onto private property.

If the cause of sewage entering your property is a backup in the City’s public sewer, that IS considered an SSO. If you suspect an SSO is occurring, please see: 
WHAT DO I DO IF I NOTICE SEWAGE ENTERING MY PROPERTY OR I SUSPECT AN SSO IS OCCURING IN FRAMINGHAM?

What do I do if I notice sewage Entering my Property, or I suspect an SSO is occurring In Framingham?

Sewer backups into homes or businesses can cause property damage and threaten public health. If you:

  • Experience a sewer backup on your property; 
  • Witness a sewer backup on another property; or  
  • Suspect an SSO of the City’s public sewer system;

Please immediately contact the Wastewater Division at 508-532-6060 for assistance. The Wastewater Division is available 24 hours a day for emergency service. If you do not reach a live person by calling the above number, please contact the Police or Fire non-emergency telephone lines at 508-872-1212 or 508-532-5930.

What are the environmental impacts of an SSO?

If an SSO reaches a waterway or enters the City’s drainage system, untreated sewage can enter rivers, lakes, streams, or wetlands. SSOs contain untreated sewage carrying bacteria, viruses, parasitic organisms, intestinal worms, molds, and fungi, as well as pollutants such as fat, oil, grease, cleaning products, food trash, toilet paper, wipes, and anything else disposed of down the drain. 

Contamination can occur when untreated sewage discharges onto land or into waterways from the City’s public sewer. City of Framingham officials will be advised by local, state, and federal agencies to take measures that reduce negative impacts on the environment and protect public health during and after an SSO. 

What are the public health risks caused by exposure to untreated sewage from an sso or sewer backup?

Exposure to untreated sewage has the potential to cause serious illness in humans and animals. As a precaution, avoid direct contact with untreated sewage and ingestion or contact with water contaminated with untreated sewage for at least 48 hours after the discharge has ceased. 

In what ways may I be exposed to untreated sewage from an SSO?

Humans and animals may be exposed to untreated sewage through:

  • Direct contact with untreated sewage;
  • Ingesting water contaminated with untreated sewage; and
  • Contact with water contaminated with untreated sewage.

HOW can I avoid exposure to untreated sewage from an SSO?

You can avoid exposure to untreated sewage by:

  • Avoiding direct contact with untreated sewage;
  • Avoiding ingestion of water contaminated with untreated sewage; and
  • Avoiding contact with water contaminated with untreated sewage for at least 48 hours after the SSO has ceased.

When is the public notified of AN SSO?

Beginning on July 6, 2022, in accordance with 314 CMR 16.00, the City of Framingham officials will issue a Public Advisory Notification for any SSO occurring in Framingham that meets any of the following criteria:

  • Any SSO that discharges through a wastewater outfall, either directly or indirectly, to a surface water of the Commonwealth;
  • Any SSO that flows into a surface water of the Commonwealth and is the result of the sanitary sewer system surcharging under high flow conditions when peak flows cannot be conveyed to a Publically Owned Treatment Works due to capacity constraints; or
  • Any SSO that flows into a surface water of the Commonwealth and is the result of a failure of a wastewater pump station or associated force main designed to convey peak flows of 1 million gallons per day or greater.

Public Advisory Notifications for an SSO can be found in the following locations:

If you wish to receive SSO Notifications via Notify Me, see: HOW CAN I STAY INFORMED ABOUT FUTURE SSOS IN FRAMINGHAM?

How will I know if there is a public health risk associated with an SSO in Framingham?

City of Framingham officials will issue a Public Health Warning if there is a public health risk associated with an SSO. Not all SSOs result in a public health risk.

Public Health Warning Information for an SSO can be found in the following locations:

  • Signs posted at public access points for affected water bodies.
  • Notifications distributed via a Notify Me list.
  • Reverse 911 call notification.
  • The City of Framingham website at www.framinghamma.gov/SSO.

How can I stay informed about future SSOs in Framingham?

To be directly notified about any future SSOs that impact Framingham, please sign up for our SSO Notifications list via Notify Me

To subscribe, please visit: 
https://www.framinghamma.gov/list.aspx

Existing Subscribers

New Subscribers

If you already receive Notify Me email notifications from the City of Framingham:

  • Enter your email address
  • Click the icon with the envelope to subscribe to “SSO Notifications”

If you don’t receive Notify Me email notifications from the City of Framingham

  • Enter your email address
  • Click the icon with the envelope to subscribe to “SSO Notifications”
  • A box will pop up asking you to check your email for a confirmation link:

    NotifyMe Subscriber box asking you to confirm your account before receiving notifications. Image with a check mark. Just one more step. You must confirm your account before you will receive any emails. Please check your email for the confirmation link. If you haven’t received an email shortly, please check your junk or SPAM folder.]

  • Once your email account is confirmed, you will begin receiving “SSO Notifications"


HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR THE CITY TO STOP AN SSO?

The time required to stop an SSO varies depending on the cause and severity. The City of Framingham makes every effort to respond quickly to SSO reports and resolve confirmed SSOs as swiftly as possible. 

If you suspect an SSO is occurring in Framingham, please see: WHAT DO I DO IF I NOTICE SEWAGE ENTERING MY PROPERTY OR I SUSPECT AN SSO IS OCCURING IN FRAMINGHAM?

HOW CAN I HELP THE CITY PREVENT SSOS?

Only flush the 3 P’s, Pee, Poop, and Paper. Some products that are promoted as being “flushable” really are not! See the Wastewater Division’s FAQs webpage for a list of items not to flush.

Recent SSO Notifications

MassDEP Sewage Notification Public Portal

To access the MassDEP’s public portal for reports on all Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) and Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) in Massachusetts, please click here.