Wastewater Maintenance

Vactor truckSewer Division

The City of Portland’s Sewer Division is operated by the Public Works department. Two different divisions work as one to manage the sewer system. The Engineering Division of the Public Works Department has within it an environmental section that is responsible for managing large sewer programs.

The Public Works Department Sewer Division currently manages 200 plus miles of sewer lines and 100 plus miles of stormwater lines. The Sewer Division has 4,400 catch basins as well as several thousand sewer and stormwater manholes. The division also maintains the city’s roadside ditches, culverts and sewers, and stormwater lines located on the right of way.


The Sewer Division is charged with managing the following programs.
  • System Administration
  • Sewer Inspections
  • Sewer Odor & Backup Investigations
  • Dig Safe Program
  • System maintenance
  • System repairs
  • Wastewater pumping stations

Environmental Section

The environmental section handles programs like the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) program. This type of sewer system makes up more than half of the city's sewer system. The CSO program was created to separate stormwater from the sanitary sewer system. Stormwater has a major impact on the sewer system as well as the public waters around our community.

Other responsibilities of the Environmental Section is to inspect the city's sewer and stormwater lines through the use of sophisticated video equipment. These are two examples of what this highly trained group of people do everyday.

System Administration

This aspect of the operation involves the management of a large amount of information. Some information records in our system go back to the late 1800s.

Sewer Inspections

We have three full-time sewer inspectors who respond to sewer-related emergencies, sewer odor complaints, sewer backups, and street flooding. Other duties of our sewer inspectors include:
  • Respond to dig safes location marking request
  • Structural repairs to catch basins and manhole
Our construction crew also performs emergency spot repairs to our underground sewer and storm water lines.

Connection Cards

Our sewer inspectors are responsible for maintaining sewer and stormwater connection cards. These cards assist the public, contractors, and our inspectors in locating underground lines.

Cleaning Programs

The Sewer Section records the daily maintenance records of sewer and storm sewer cleaning assignments. One or the major components for managing stormwater is through an aggressive catch basin cleaning program. One of our newest tools is our Vactor truck. This truck carries 1,500 gallons of water for use with its front-end mounted jet cleaning attachment.


Any sewer operation questions, please call John Emerson at 207-874-8468. You may direct any questions for the sewer engineering services section to 207-874-8846.