Sanitary Sewer Overflows: Past, Present, and Future Regulation

28 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2011

Date Written: 2003


Sanitary sewers are an overlooked part of the nation's infrastructure. Most Americans never think twice about what happens to the water that runs down the drain. The public eye turns to sanitary sewers only when untreated waste overflows into the surrounding environment. This paper addresses the past, present, and future of Sanitary Sewer Overflow ("SSO") regulation in the United States. First, it provides a general introduction to SSOs and the history of the SSO problem. Next, it explains the current regulatory scheme employed by EPA and responsible state agencies and discusses how courts have addressed the issue. After examining a municipal case study, it suggests a single modification to the regulatory framework -- the addition of a standard permit condition that would tie enforcement standards to rainfall intensity -- that would make uniform and fair enforcement a more realistic possibility.

Keywords: Sanitary sewers, environmental law

Suggested Citation

Strifling, David, Sanitary Sewer Overflows: Past, Present, and Future Regulation (2003). Marquette Law Review, Vol. 87, 2003, Available at SSRN:

David Strifling (Contact Author)

Marquette University Law School ( email )

Eckstein Hall
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201
United States

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