Overflow Control

by Michael Bagstad, P.E., Greater Houston Wastewater Program, City of Houston, 1100 Louisiana, Suite 1100, Houston, TX 77002,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1997, Vol. 67, Issue 6, Pg. 46-48

Document Type: Feature article


The city of Houston devised an innovative flow remonitoring effort that allowed engineers to modify or eliminate many planned overflow control facilities. Net construction savings topped $77 million (7%) on the city's $1.16 billion wet weather control program. Controlling wet weather sewer overflows posed a unique challenge to the city of Houston. With 45 in. of rain per year, the region has a remarkably wet climate. Houston's sanitary sewer system includes 5,700 mi of pipelines, encompasses 600 sq mi and serves a population of 1.72 million. The brief, intense nature of local rainstorms causes frequent overflows into bayous (streams) and streets. Like many other U.S. cities, Houston faced an administrative order requiring the elimination of overflow structures (which numbered more than 200) to bring the sewer system into compliance with federal environmental requirements.

Subject Headings: Overflow | Urban areas | Sewers | Streets | Sanitary sewers | Rivers and streams | Rainfall intensity

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