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Did You

  • The cost of one bottle of water from a vending machine is equivalent to the cost of drinking 8 glasses of tap water every day for a year.
  • A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds.
  • The Water Authority maintains almost 1500 miles of drinking water pipes. If you put them end-to-end, they would stretch from Roanoke to Colorado Springs, CO.
  • At one drip per second, a faucet can leak 3,000 gallons of water per year.
  • Water is the only substance naturally found on earth as a solid, liquid and gas.
  • Over 713 gallons of water go into the production of one cotton T-shirt.
  • The Authority’s Water Pollution Control Plant is regarded as one of the best bird-watching areas in the mid-Atlantic region.
  • The Water Authority maintains over 6,000 fire hydrants in our service area. Fire hydrants are connected to the public drinking water distribution lines, so water from a fire hydrant is drinking water.
  • There are over 23,000 manholes in our service area.
  • Carvins Cove Natural Reserve is the second largest municipal park in the United States.
  • The Authority’s Water Pollution Control Plant covers over 100 acres of land.
  • More people in the world have a mobile phone than have a toilet.
  • The Water Authority treats 19-million gallons of drinking water a day although we have the capacity to treat 56-million gallons per day.
  • The Authority’s Water Pollution Control Plant treats almost 37-million gallons of wastewater a day from all across the Roanoke Valley.
  • There are 51 drinking water storage tanks in our service area. They each hold between 500,000 – 2-million gallons of water.
  • Most of the treated drinking water used in a home is for toilet flushing.

water drops



What You Can Do to Prevent a Back-Up

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sewer pipes

What to do if a Back-Up Occurs?


Sewer Backups

The Sanitary Sewer Collection System is designed to carry wastewater away from your house to the Regional Water Pollution Control Plant  where it can be safely and effectively cleaned.  However, if something goes into the sanitary sewer lines that shouldn’t be there or there is a blockage in the line, sewage backups can occur.

Sewage backups can also be caused by too much stormwater entering the sanitary sewer system. During rain events, stormwater can get into the sewer system and increase the total volume of water in sewer pipes beyond their design. If there is too much water for the pipes to convey, backups can occur at the lowest points usually basements, drains and toilets.

Blockages can be caused by the buildup of roots or fats, oils or grease (FOG) in the sanitary sewer lines. NEVER pour FOG down the drain. As it cools, it will congeal, clogging pipes.

While the Authority cleans and maintains the sanitary sewer system in the public right of way, the maintenance of sewer pipes on a homeowner’s property is the responsibility of the homeowner. The Authority strongly recommends homeowners have a sewer back-up rider as part of their homeowner insurance policy.  Keeping your lines clear of roots, run-off and FOG will minimize sewage backups from occurring.


To immediately reduce the risk of sewer backups and property damage in basements due to sewer backups, property owners can:

  • Cap basement sewer floor drains if no other plumbing fixtures are on the basement level. Caps are available at most hardware stores. 
  • Cap sewer clean-outs in yards.
  • Disconnect downspouts from sewer pipes.
  • Disconnect sump pumps from sewer pipes and redirect the water outside, away from the foundation of homes.
  • Install a back flow preventer in your sewer pipe to prevent any sewage from the main line from backing up into your basement.
  • Never flush toys, diapers, wipes or clothes as they can clog lines.
  • Never pour FOG (fats, oils and grease) down the drain. As it cools, it will congeal, clogging pipes.


What is the Western Virginia Water Authority doing to minimize sewer backups from occurring?

The Water Authority makes every attempt to prevent backups in the wastewater collection system before they occur.   Sewage backups can occur either in the public portion of the sanitary sewer system or in the private sewer service lateral connection for each property. The Water Authority is only responsible for the operation and maintenance of the public portion.

Utility maintenance crews regularly inspect and clean sewage lines throughout our service area. Video cameras and equipment allow crews too see inside lines.

Degreasing and root control agents are injected into lines that are prone to blockages; however, even with regular maintenance, backups can still occur.