Welcome to the Sewer Backup Response Program

Sewer Backup? Call us FIRST at: (513) 352-4900

Historic Rain Event of August 28, 2016

Letter from the MSD Director

On August 28, 2016, Norwood, St. Bernard and eastern and central neighborhoods in Cincinnati were hit by a major rain storm. This was a catastrophic rain event, not a failure of the sewer system. Sewer systems are not designed to handle a rain storm of the magnitude and intensity that occurred.

As a result, thousands of homes and businesses were flooded with rain water mixed with sewage that backed up from floor drains.

Hamilton County is one of the few communities in the nation that has a sewer backup (SBU) program through its local wastewater utility - the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD). MSD's program is required under a federal Consent Decree (mandate) with the U.S. EPA.

The SBU program, which was launched in 2004, typically handles about 400 reports of sewer backups over a year’s time, normally in groups of about 10 to 20 reporting a couple of inches of water and sewage. The August 28 event resulted in more than 2,000 reported sewer backups, many with multiple feet of water and sewage. This resulted in significantly more structural damage, loss of personal property, and damage or loss of critical mechanicals such as furnaces, AC, hot water heaters and electrical systems.

As MSD was not staffed to handle the volume of sewer backups that occurred, we contracted with additional cleanup contractors and hired a third-party claims adjuster, Tenco, to handle the claims process. We are making steady progress. Learn more about our Claims Process (including the Review Process) on the Claims page.

We understand the process of recovering from the August 28 storm has been difficult and frustrating at times. We know that many have lost keepsakes that are irreplaceable. We are doing the best that we can and are committed to helping the community through this hardship. If you have questions about your claim, please contact us at (513) 244-5100. For those who would like additional information about the SBU program, we encourage you to contact the SBU Ombudsman at the Legal Aid Society at (513) 362-2801.

Thank you.


What We Do

The Sewer Backup Response Program (SBU) provides services to customers of the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) who experience sewer backups.

The SBU Program provides:

  • 24/7 customer service at (513) 352-4900. Use this number to report a sewer backup into your home or business, even if you aren’t sure what caused the backup.
  • Free cleanup assistance for property owners, if the public sewer system caused the backup.
  • Payment of damage claims, when eligibility criteria are met.
  • Protection from future sewer backups when the problem is caused by lack of sewer capacity.

Through the SBU Response Program, MSD serves as a good steward of our community and the environment.  



Do Your Part Cincinnati

MSD created the Do Your Part Cincinnati digital experience to help kids (young and old) learn about their sewer system.  Click Puddles the cat to watch the video, play the game, and read more about how to do your part.

  • Contact the SBU Program

    Report a sewer backup

    If you have a sewer backup (SBU), please report it immediately. You can report sewer backups 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    Note: SBUs must be reported within 24 hours to be eligible for reimbursement of damages.

    Phone: (513) 352-4900
    Online: Report a sewer backup online

    Get information about sewer backup prevention

    (513) 352-4288

    Filing a claim

    Start here: How to File a Claim
    Get help filing a claim: (513) 244-5100
    Just need the form? SBU Claim Form (pdf)

    SBU Ombudsman with the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati

    (513) 362-2801

SBU Site Search:

MSD Home    Customer Service    City of Cincinnati    Hamilton County    Project Groundwork

Understanding Sewer Backups

How to Prevent a Sewer Backup