Function & Purpose

The City of Falls Church Public Works owns and operates approximately 47 miles of sanitary sewer pipe that conveys nearly 1.4 million gallons of sewage per day to treatment plants located in Alexandria and Arlington.  To maintain this system of pipes and manholes City crews must clean the pipe 3 to 4 times annually; sometime more in locations where grease buildup occurs frequently.

Sewage is tough on the system designed to transport it, which why it needs continual maintenance. The most harmful thing to a sewer system is hydrogen sulfide gas.  Hydrogen sulfide is a natural byproduct of bacteria breaking down organic matter in sewage.  This gas is extremely corrosive and can eat through fresh concrete in a few years.  The City limits hydrogen sulfide build up and its eventual corrosion of pipes and manholes by designing a system that keeps turbulence in sewage to a minimum.   They also use pipe materials, such as vitrified clay, plastic, and fiberglass, that can resist the gas.

The majority of the sanitary sewer system was installed between 1950 and 1960.  Those pipes and structures are now reaching the end of their expected useful life.  Since the City can’t replace all of the piping at once due to budget constraints, city engineers manage a comprehensive inspection program that collects pipe conditions and ranks portions of the system for rehabilitation.  Visual inspections of the sewer system are done using a robotic camera that drives down the pipes while recording a video.  Engineers then review the data and make recommendations.

Each year the City performs nearly 3 miles of Cured-In-Place Pipe (CIPP) work on the sanitary sewer system.  CIPP is a trenchless rehabilitation method used to repair and rehabilitate aging sewer pipes.  This process is the most cost effective way to restore existing pipe because it provides a new, strong, fiberglass pipe that is resistant to hydrogen sulfide corrosion inside an old pipe without having to dig up the road.  CIPP is also a seamless pipe so there are no joints like traditional piping.  This eliminates potential sources for groundwater to seep into the sewer system.

Sewer Usage

For residential customers, sewer usage is based on winter-quarter water consumption or the actual water consumption during the current billing period, whichever is lower. This prevents residential customers from being charged sewer rates on water used outdoors during the warmer months, because it does not drain to the sanitary sewer system.

The City of Falls Church prorates this amount on initial and final bills based on average winter-quarter consumption.

Download the 2014 Sanitary Sewer Service application.

Commercial Customers
Commercial customers' sewer use is based on actual water consumption. Some commercial customers use meters to separately measure water that does not drain to the sanitary sewer system, such as water used for irrigation or cooling systems.

Residential Customers
Residential customers would not benefit from this type of metering because their winter-quarter consumption already limits the amount of sewer usage billed in the summer months.
City Sewer Customers
To verify if your property is in the City of Falls Church sanitary sewer system please click here for the Sanitary Sewer Account Lookup Tool.

Sewer System Facts
  • 1,000+ Manholes
  • 10 Storage Tanks
  • 2 Million Gallons per Day Maximum Discharge
  • 47 Miles of Pipe
  • 6 inches to 21 inches Diameters

Where does it go?

A portion of the City's wastewater flows to the Arlington County Pollution Control Plant. To learn more about the treatment process please visit the County's website. The rest of the City's wastewater flows through Fairfax County and is treated at the Alexandria Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Can the F.O.G.!

F.O.G. stands for the fats, oils, and grease that occur from food preparation. Many of the foods we eat contain F.O.G. - meats, sauces, salad dressings, deep-fried dishes, mayonnaise, butter, shortening and many others.

Yet, when they are washed down the drain they contribute to the accumulation of grease in the sanitary sewer system, which then can constrict the flow in the pipes and cause back-ups and overflows.
Click here to find out ways that you can help be a part of the solution!