Prevention Program

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

MSD's Sewer Backup Response (SBU) program provides a prevention program for customers who experience multiple sewer backups caused by the MSD public sewer. Read below for more information on the prevention program and why backups occur from the public sewer.


Why Do Sewer Backups from the Public Sewer Occur?

During dry weather, wastewater from homes and businesses across Hamilton County flows through underground sewer pipes to one of MSD's seven major wastewater treatment plants.

However, during heavy rains, some parts of the sewer system can fill up with too much rainwater (also known as stormwater), overwhelming the ability of the sewer to carry the flow to a treatment plant. As a result, a mixture of sewage and stormwater can overflow into local streams and rivers or back up through manhole lids or storm inlets into the environment.

The flow can also get pushed backward through private building sewers into the lower levels of home, businesses, and other buildings. This is known as a sewer backup.

To help reduce sewer overflows and backups related to capacity issues in the public sewer system, MSD has embarked on one of the largest public works projects in the history of our community. Called Project Groundwork, this multi-year and multi-billion dollar initiative includes hundreds of sewer improvements and stormwater control management across Hamilton County.

However, Project Groundwork will not eliminate sewer backups within the MSD service area.

As a result, MSD's federal Consent Decree offers a response program for MSD customers who have experienced a sewer backup caused by the public sewer. This program includes cleanup assistance and reimbursement for damage claims for sewer backups caused by the public sewer system.

In addition, the program offers a prevention program for property owners experiencing recurring sewer backups.


Sewer Backup Prevention Program

If your property has experienced two or more sewer backups from the public sewer system over five years, you may be eligible for prevention assistance. If you are eligible for this program, MSD will install a backup prevention device on your property at no cost.

As a first step, you will need to fill out a questionnaire describing the history of sewer backups on your property. If your property qualifies for assistance, an MSD representative will set up an interview and conduct a comprehensive site investigation. MSD will then design and install a backup prevention device on your property.

MSD will need up to two years to evaluate, design, and construct a remedy for your property. You will not be charged for the installation of the prevention device; however, if the device requires electricity to operate, you will have to provide the electricity. 

During this time, you must not store personal property in the area that has backups, and you must not install carpeting, flooring, or drywall in this area.

To date, MSD has protected more than 900 properties from recurring sewer backups through our prevention program.

If you would like to be considered for this program, please call (513) 352-4288 to begin the eligibility and enrollment process.

Download the Sewer Backup Prevention Program brochure

Watch a video about Sewer Backup Prevention Devices

  • Contact the SBU Program

    Report a sewer backup

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

    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.

    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