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Wastewater Collection & Maintenance

The Wastewater Collection Division

The Wastewater Collection Division of the Water Resources Department provides the maintenance and collection of wastewater in the city's wastewater collection system. With approximately fifty employees, the division works day and night, including weekends and holidays, to provide wastewater services to approximately 310,643 customers.

The Wastewater Maintenance Division has received the prestigious recognition of Outstanding Collection System Program for 2007 from the Florida Water Environment Association (for over 50,000 connections). This award recognizes the outstanding work that has been done in maintaining our city's wastewater collection system. Congratulations to all of our employees who work hard, every day, to protect the health and safety of our community.

Provisions for regulation of the city wastewater collection system can be found in City Code, Chapter 27, Utilities, Article III Sewers and Sewage Disposal. These provisions meet federal guidelines and include pretreatment requirements. The ordinance provides for connections, fees and charges, user requirements and industrial discharges. Tampering with the city wastewater collection system is a violation of local ordinances and state statutes.


Our wastewater system dates back to 1894 (history). About 25 percent of its current size was in place by 1933. Most of the remaining portions were built between 1950 and 1962. The system includes three water reclamation facilities, geographically located throughout the city, which treat wastewater. The three service areas include 19,378 manholes, over 888 miles of gravity mains, over 97,932 laterals, 83 lift stations and over 49 miles of force main.

About our Division

The employees of the Wastewater Collection Division are trained in many disciplines of operation and maintenance of a wastewater collection system infrastructure as well as public health and safety. They participate in a four year apprenticeship program with most receiving certification in Wastewater Management. The Wastewater Collection Division is divided into three sections providing emergency, preventive, and corrective maintenance. Our wastewater crews are proud of their prompt response record.  Greater than 90% of dispatch calls received are responded to within the division's two-hour target response time. The wastewater crews utilize a variety of equipment, pumps and technology in maintaining the sanitary sewer system in St. Petersburg.

Tips to Keep Your Private Wastewater Collection in Good Flow

  • Do NOT pour grease down the drain or down your garbage disposal
  • Do put cooking oil and grease in a can or container to solidify and dispose of in the garbage
  • Do not use clean outs or manholes to drain flooded areas during heavy rains -- this overloads the wastewater collection system and can cause overflows
  • Report broken clean-out caps at property lines or right-of-way -- they are city maintained and will be replaced.

Tips to Assist Wastewater Crews

  • Keep easements clear. Fences, sheds, paved surfaces, plants and other obstructions will be removed if necessary to complete a repair.
  • Location of a repair or inspection may be in an easement, parkway or alley. Make sure there is proper access to these locations.
  • Secure your pet if crews are present.

Things to Know if You Live by a Manhole 

  • It's possible to have a city manhole on your property, in the front or back yard, even if you are unaware of it.
  • Throughout the city, emergency and regular maintenance work is performed during all hours of the day and sometimes at night.
  • After hours, there may be a Wastewater Maintenance crew needing access to your back yard to check a manhole to evaluate a wastewater problem either you or your neighbor may be having.
  • Emergency repairs are done at all hours of the day. There may be occasions when a wastewater maintenance crew will be in your easement performing this necessary work. If a worker is present, especially after hours, it is because a problem must be addressed. In some cases, the problem may be occurring at a neighbor's home but access to clear a stoppage is at the manhole.
  • Wastewater Maintenance crews working at night can be identified: work vest, city identification, flashers on truck. Please note in some instances the truck may be parked in a different location as the workers will have to follow the line to locate the specific problem area and utilize the manhole at the problem location.
  • Only city authorized personnel are allowed to open a manhole.
  • If you have any questions, see any suspicious behavior, or to confirm that the city is performing utility work, call 893-7261.

February 15, 2017 - Manhole Maintenance Taking Place Throughout St. Petersburg

Important Things to Know About Easements

Easements must be kept clear. The Water Resources Department provides routine maintenance and emergency care as they work to maintain the city's wastewater collection system. This work is routinely done in the utility easements throughout the city and its service areas. Access to an easement should be kept open and free of obstructions.

A property owner may not hinder the work of the Water Resources Department by limiting access to its wastewater collection system or appurtenances.

  • If obstructions are not removed by the property owner they will be removed by the City so that utility work can be completed. 
  • All costs involving repair of hard surfaces, removal and replacement of fences, sheds, walls, trees, shrubbery, hedges, and other obstructions shall be the responsibility of the property owner as referenced in City Code Section 16-

What to do if You Have a Problem

  1. If your drain doesn't work, check to see if it's one drain or the whole house.
  2. If it's just one drain, unstop it yourself or call a plumber.
  3. If the entire house is affected, check to see if you have a clean-out at the property line.
  4. If so, call our dispatch office at 893-7261 and a city crew will respond.
  5. If you do not have a clean-out, check with your next door neighbors to determine if they are experiencing a problem.
  6. The city will respond and check the main line if we receive calls from multiple customer locations on the same main reporting loss of service.
  7. If you don't have a clean-out at the property line and the neighbors don't seem to have a problem or if you can't contact them, call a plumber.
  8. If the plumber determines that the problem is in the vicinity of the property line, or on city property, the plumber should call our dispatch office and a crew will be sent.
  9. The city can only assist the homeowner with compensation for a portion of the plumber bill if the plumber calls the city.
  10. Simply writing that the problem appears to have been on the city's property is not sufficient for us to authorize compensation.
  11. Plumbers must be certified and licensed.


Maintaining Your Private Plumbing and Wastewater Collection System

The customer is responsible for all normal maintenance of the wastewater service line on private property. This falls into four major categories: regular maintenance, long term care, potential problems, and emergency care:

 Regular maintenance

  • Removal of materials that are flushed, dropped, or inserted into the wastewater line (toys, diapers, etc.). 
  • Removal of construction debris
  • Removal of tree roots that may grow into the private service lateral

 Long term care

  • Pipes will age and become susceptible to infiltration or collapse. A property owner or customer should have private service laterals inspected by a licensed plumber. Replace aging pipe as necessary.
  • The property owner and/or customer should know where the private clean-out is and keep the area maintained so that it is accessible. 
  • If a problem exists between the home and the city clean-out, it is the resident's responsibility to correct the problem.
  • If you do not have a private clean-out, it is advisable to have a plumber install one when they are making a service call. 
  • Once installed you may either call a plumber or open the private clean-out to clear a stoppage. 
  • It is the property owner's responsibility to maintain a private clean-out.
  • The property owner and/or customer should know the location of manholes, city service laterals, and wastewater collection mains. Do not place permanent structures in these areas.
  • The property owner and/or customer should know the location of water and wastewater service lines cross the property. Avoid these areas when planting landscape plants and/or trees. Do not place permanent structures over water and wastewater service lines.

 Potential problems

  • Homeowners may notice a slow flowing private plumbing drainage system and hear gurgling noises from the toilet bowls and observe wet areas around floor drains after completing laundry. A complete blockage may occur if no remedial action is taken.
  • A blockage will cause a backup through floor drains and toilets at the lowest point in the structure. An overflow will continue until the blockage is removed or until wastewater is no longer entering the line.
  • Tree roots seeking moisture can grow through cracks in the pipes. Roots will expand in wastewater service lines exerting great pressure. Pipes structurally damaged by severe root intrusion will require replacement. 
  • Kitchen grease and other flushable items may accumulate and cause a blockage. Do not put grease or oils down the drain.
  • Illegal hookups allow excess water into the lines and overload the wastewater collection system. Rain gutters, pool drains, or other drainage systems should never be connected to the wastewater collection system.

 Emergency Care

  • If a private plumbing drain does not work, determine if the problem is confined to a single drain or the entire house. 
  • If only one drain is affected, the Property Owner should make the repair or call a plumber. 
  • If the whole house is affected, look for a clean-out at the property line. 
  • If there is a city clean-out, call the Water Resources 24 hour phone number at 893-7261. 
  • This clean-out may be under pressure. 
  • City cleanout should only be opened by Water Resources Department staff or persons authorized by this organization.
    • A City crew will respond. 
  • If a Property Owner does not have a city clean-out, the Property Owner or Customer is advised to check with next door neighbors to see if they are also experiencing a problem. The City will respond if more than one residence on a line is out of service with a "check main line" call.
  • If a clean-out is not at the property line, and the neighbors do not have a problem or the Property Owner or Customer is unable to contact them, the Property Owner or Customer should call a plumber.
  • If the plumber determines that the problem is at the property line or in the City wastewater collection system, the plumber should call the City Water Resources 24 hour phone number and a crew will be sent.

 Important Things to Know When Calling a Plumber

  • Always use a licensed and certified plumber.
  • Obtain price quotes from more than one plumber and compare the rates. Ask if the work is guaranteed and for how long
  • Ask the plumber if the company is insured against claims covering worker's compensation, property damage, and personal liability in the event of an accident.
  • Confirm that the plumbing contractor is properly licensed and bonded before allowing them to work at the property. 
  • Advise the plumber of any history of wastewater problems.
  • If the property has a long private service line (100' or more) ask the plumber if equipment will be adequate to rod the entire line.
  • Most plumbers will charge extra for nights, weekends, and holidays.

Need Additional Information

  • Ask friends and neighbors to recommend a plumber or ask the plumbers being considered for references and investigate.
  • Call the local Better Business Bureau or consumer affairs office to help determine customer satisfaction with the plumbers being considered.
  • Advise the plumber of any history of wastewater problems.
  • If the property has a long private service line (100' or more) ask the plumber if equipment will be adequate to rod the entire line.

Consumer Tips & General Information to Consider

When Hiring a Plumber

Home improvements and repairs can become costly and are the subject of frequent consumer complaints. When selecting a contractor consider the following tips:

  • Get recommendations and references. Talk to friends, family and others who have used the plumber for similar work.
  • Get at least three written estimates. Insist the plumber come to your home to evaluate what needs to be done. Be sure the estimates are based on the same work so that you can make meaningful comparisons.
  • Check plumber or company complaint records. Contact Justice & Consumer Services at 727-464-6200 or visit 
  • Make sure the plumber meets licensing and registration requirements. Contact Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board at 727-536-4720 or visit their website at
  • Contact your local building inspection department to check for permit and inspection requirements. Be wary if the plumber asks you to get the permit-it could mean the firm is not licensed.
  • Be sure your plumber is insured. They should have personal liability, property damage and worker's compensation insurance for workers and subcontractors. Also check with your insurance company to find out if you are covered for any injury or damage that might occur.
  • Insist on a written contract that states exactly what work will be done, the quality of materials that will be used, warranties, timetables, the names of any subcontractors, the total price of the job, and the schedule of payments.
  • Understand your payment options.
  • Don't make a final payment or sign a release until you are satisfied with the work and know that subcontractors and suppliers have been paid. Beware that subcontractors and suppliers can place a lien on your home for bills the contractor failed to pay.
  • Pay by credit card when you can. You may have the right to contest the credit card charge until the problems are corrected.

For additional information contact Pinellas County Department of Justice and Consumer Services at (727) 464-6200.

The vast majority of businesses in Pinellas County provide quality services for consumers at reasonable prices. Inevitably, there are also some disreputable businesses which seek to prey on the unsuspecting.

The Pinellas County Office of Consumer Protection will assist you in making well-informed decisions, as well as, provide easy access to complaint and regulatory forms. Remember, before engaging in a costly decision, check the on-line complaint history. The system contains a five-year history on the business you're inquiring about. Most importantly, look at the disposition (end result) of the complaint. Also available are a series of educational brochures to assist you in many consumer issues.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates home improvement repairs and functions as the state's clearinghouse for consumer complaints. They assist consumers with information, protection and complaints, regardless of whether they regulate that particular industry. Upon receipt, they review each complaint and take the following action:

  1. If the complaint falls within another agency's jurisdiction, it is referred to that agency;
  2. If the complaint falls within their jurisdiction, they attempt informal mediation to resolve the consumer's dispute and evaluate the business for compliance with applicable statutory provisions; or
  3. If a complaint is filed against a business that is not regulated by any federal, state, or local government entity, they attempt informal mediation to resolve the consumer's dispute.  

Helpful agencies:

Pinellas County Office of Justice and Consumer Services
631 Chestnut Street
Clearwater, FL 33756

Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Better Business Bureau - Serving Florida's West Coast
2655 McCormack Drive
Clearwater, FL 33759-2655 Phone: (727) 535-5522 (24 Hours) 
Email: -

Department of Business and Professional Regulation
Division of Professions-Construction Industry Licensing Board

Helpful consumer tips are available online at:

Operating Rules for Plumbers in the City of St. Petersburg

The city of St. Petersburg wishes to maintain a mutually beneficial working relationship with the licensed, professional plumbers operating within city boundaries and service areas. The City's Wastewater Collection System's Maintenance personnel perform work on city property only. All work to be done on private property is to be through the efforts of a licensed, professional plumber. The city understands the vital role that the professional plumber plays. Working in cooperation, we can better monitor and maintain the wastewater collection system as a whole.

  • Determine source and location of the wastewater problem
  • Upon arrival, determine if the problem is on:
    • City property
    • Private property
  • Look for a clean-out at the property line and 
    • Check clean-out
    • Determine if the main line is backed up
  • Rod the line, as appropriate
  • If you reach the vicinity of the property line without encountering resistance and determine the problem is at the tap or on city property

 call the Water Resources 24 hour phone line

 The city may compensate a property owner or customer for a portion of the plumber's service charge only if the city crew is dispatched after a call from a certified and licensed plumber. Furthermore, it must be confirmed that the problem is due to a blockage in the city wastewater collection system. 

 If a problem is in close proximity to the property line, and the plumber cannot determine the exact location, the plumber should contact the city and explain the circumstances of the call. The city's response may vary depending on information and resources available

If a plumber calls the city to report a problem and it is determined by the city that the problem is on private property and that the Wastewater Collection Service Pollicies and Procedures were not followed, the city may contact the plumber.

All plumbers operating within the city of St. Petersburg and its service areas should be familiar with the Wastewater Collection Service Policies and Procedures.

Compounds of Emerging Concern-Microconstituents in Water-Concerns with Disposal of Pharmaceuticals, Personal Care Products, and Other Compounds

New chemical detection methods and a continued focus on water quality monitoring have generated interest in pharmaceuticals, personal care products (PPCPs) and other compounds that may be discharged to the wastewater collection system and could find their way into the environment and drinking water sources.

The compounds include:

Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs; Pain, Depression, or Cold Medications; Antibiotics; Birth Control Pills; natural and synthetic Hormones and Steroids; Hair Product Ingredients; Cosmetic Ingredients; Fragrances; Cleaning Supplies; and Pesticides.

Some of these products contain endocrine disrupting compounds and contaminants that may harm aquatic life.

Sophisticated tests and monitoring equipment can detect the presence of some chemical compounds as low as nanograms per liter. These tests are used to monitor groundwater and surface water contamination. In some cases, the concerns arise over the presence of multiple contaminants which in combination may create a microconstituent or compound of emerging concern. No effects on human health have been detected according to The National Association of Clean Water Agencies which is working with its agencies throughout the country to address this challenge. Research is ongoing.

The chemical universe is comprised of about 26 million organic and inorganic compounds with approximately 9 million available commercially.   

Many of these compounds are used to enhance the quality of life. However, individuals can add PPCPs to the environment through excretion, bathing, and improper disposal of unwanted medications by flushing them down the drain.

These bioactive chemicals, or substances that have an effect on living tissue, are not new. What is becoming more apparent is the importance of our individual contributions to the combined load of chemicals in the environment.

Research is underway along with a review of regulations and controls as local, state, and federal agencies work together to assure water quality.

As a Household

Educate yourself, family members, friends, and coworkers about this emerging environmental issue. Remember: what is flushed or poured down the drain does not disappear. All wastewater enters a treatment process used to create high quality reclaimed water that can be used for irrigation. The more contaminants put in the wastewater stream the more complex the wastewater becomes. You can be part of the solution. We encourage our citizens to store and dispose of medications properly. Pay attention to storage instructions to improve shelf life.

What You Can Do

Consider the ingredients in the items that you purchase and use. Do not dispose of unwanted medications down the drain or in the toilet. Use solid waste disposal being careful to remove identifying labels. Keep trash containing these items out of the reach of children and pets. Follow Florida Department of Environmental Protection guidelines for protecting privacy and preventing misuse of medications. For more information visit the following web sites:

Talk to your pharmacist to determine if there are programs available to return unused medications to the pharmacy for safe disposal.

To receive copies of this brochure or more information, please contact or call 727-893-7261 to be connected with a representative of the Industrial Pretreatment Office.


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