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Water and Sewer Maintenance/Emergencies

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) maintains 2,700 miles of water distribution pipes (water mains) and 3,000 miles of sewer collection piping. DWSD has an aggressive preventative maintenance program, a five-year Capital Improvement Program to begin to address our aging infrastructure, and has a skilled field services team that is responsive to emergencies.


If you need to report a water or sewer emergency, please call 313-267-8000 and press option 4, or use the Improve Detroit mobile app.


The water system in Detroit includes the drinking water treatment plants, pumps, transmission mains, distribution pipes or water mains, valves, fire hydrants, and water service lines. Watch this animated video.

Do you have a Water Main Break?

Cold Detroit winters, spring thaws and summer extreme heat can lead to breaks in the pipes that carry water to our customers. Whenever the ground shifts due to dramatic temperature changes, it can put pressure on the pipes.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) has an aggressive leak detection program, and a Capital Improvement Program to upgrade the system. You can help too. Millions of gallons of precious drinking water resources can be lost in a short time, so fast detection of a water main break is critical. If you suspect a leak in your neighborhood, please call us at 313-267-8000 or use the Improve Detroit mobile app.

Watch this video to learn about how DWSD responds to water main breaks.

Who is Responsible for Water Pipes?

DWSD is responsible for maintenance on the water distribution system, including the water mains and service lines up to the curbstop (turn-on/off valve near or at the sidewalk). The property owner is responsible for the water service line from the curbstop to inside the home or business and the internal plumbing inside the house/structure. If the private portion of the water service line cracks or fails, it is the responsibility of the property owner to hire a licensed plumber and pull the proper city permit to make the repair. See image below.



The water and sewer line from your home




The sewer collection system in Detroit consists of sewer lateral lines (private), sewer collection pipes mostly using gravity, stormwater pipes, catch basins, green stormwater infrastructure, pumps, combined sewer overflow facilities, and the wastewater treatment plant.

Is your Street Flooded?

DWSD launched a Catch Basin Inspection and Cleaning Program in 2017 to reduce neighborhood street flooding. As of November 2020, DWSD crews have inspected and cleaned 30,000 catch basins (storm drains). There are approximately 90,000 catch basins that DWSD is responsible for maintaining. This does not include the basins on freeways, state or county roads, such M-10 Lodge Freeway and Woodward Avenue, which are the responsibility of MDOT. Read about the program here.

If you experience street flooding, for your safety, please do not drive or walk through a flooded area. Report it by calling 313-267-8000 and press option 4, or use the Improve Detroit mobile app.

Property owners/renters are encouraged and responsible for picking up grass clippings, leaves, trash and other debris in front of their homes and businesses and properly dispose of them either in lawn or trash bags. Debris that is not swept or shoveled from in front of your property can clog the catch basins and potentially flood your street. Watch this video to learn more.

Do you have an Overflow or Sewer Backup?

Contact DWSD at 313-267-8000 and press option 4 or use the Improve Detroit mobile app upon discovery of an overflow or sewer backup. If you have an overflow or sewer backup into your home or business, see DWSD's damage claim information. State law requires you file a written claim with your local water utility, DWSD in this case, within 45 days of when the overflow or backup was discovered.

Who is Responsible for the Sewer Pipes?

DWSD is responsible for the sewer collection system. Property owners are responsible for the drains inside the house/structure, on the private property and the sewer line coming from the structure all the way to the connection at the city sewer collection pipe. Most sewer lines connect in the alley or former alley (those vacated to the property owners by the city), while only a few neighborhoods have the sewer line connect under the street in front of the house/structure. If the sewer line from the house/structure fails, cracks or collapses from the city sewer connection, it is the responsibility of the private property owner to hire a licensed plumber and pull the proper city permit to make the repair. See image below.



The water and sewer line from your home