Sewer Systems and the Problems They can Cause Preppers

As late as the early 1800 sewers systems in much of the world consisted of throwing the waste products out the window into the streets and hoping the rains washed them away.  Today (at least in this country) we have nice modern sewers systems that keep our streets clean and the waste is treated before it goes back into the environment. This helps to keep us healthy by maintaining good sanitation and hygiene.  We almost always have access to good water and waste disposal systems.

Now if you live in the country and have your own septic tank most of this post will probably not apply to you.  But for the majority of us who are on municipal sewer systems, we may have a problem.

While our sewer systems today are great, much of the operation depends on electric power.  In the old days, sewer systems worked by gravity.  Today homes are built in areas that require the use of pumps to move the sewage uphill.  If the power grid collapsed today, many areas would be subject to waste backing up into homes.  If you live in a low-lying area and the people above you continue to use the sewer system, waste may back up into your home.

I wrote a post in the past on how to plug your sewer line to keep the main line from backing up into your home. More on Sewer System Problems  If I lived in a low area this is one of the first things that I would do.  Check on your sewers system and you will find that pumps are more prevalent than you might suspect.

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Now that you have prevented the sewer from backing up into your home, depending on what your neighbors do there will still be waste to dispose of.  You as a prepper will probably have a plan to deal with it.  But what about your neighbors?  Their misuse of waste can endanger you.  Ground water will become contaminated.  This is one of the reason you need both water storage and the best water filter you can afford.  Soap and other hygiene supplies will be in great demand.

Everytime there is a major natural disaster or a war that impacts cities this situation occurs.  Today in the Eastern Ukraine where the fighting has heavily damaged the cities this problem is occurring.  Sewer systems and treatment plants are damaged or shut down, but people still produce waste.  The biggest problem you may face won’t be the waste that you produce, but what is produced by your neighbors.

Remember that there are two systems in most cities, sewer systems and drainage systems. Learn about how the drainage system might affect you, if there are heavy rains and the system has failed.

Plan ahead and have what you need on hand.



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6 thoughts on “Sewer Systems and the Problems They can Cause Preppers”

  1. You bring up 2 very important points. Especially for those who live in the urban and suburban areas.

    1) Our reliance on the sewage system and how to handle the situation when the grid goes down, [Read: Sewer Back-up.] Granted municipal sewage treatment plants have the latest generators to prevent their systems from going down, but so did the Fukushima Nuclear Plant, and we all know what happened there.

    2) Neighbors. We can put a lot of effort into our planning but one of our biggest challenges will be how to handle the “PEOPLE” in our immediate area (our neighbors) that may have (or may not have planned) and those who simply don’t know what to do with their waste products when the time comes.

    Excellent Post.


  2. Almost anyone that lives in a newer municipal subdivision will have sewer backup problems. They are designed and built with an electrically powered lift station/pump. No remedy unless someone comes around to power it up to evacuate the accumulated waste in the sewer piping.

    And most likely the municipal water supply will continue long after the electric grid goes down. Most communities have gravity fed water tower supply and a generator back-up for the pump.

    Prep to block all the drains in your home – including the toilets – and pray the pressure isn’t too high.

    1. We are actually VERY lucky. Our municipal sewer is gravity flow to the plant. We are 700+ feet above the plant. We are also at the end of our street at the highest point. No chance of it backing up. We are, of course, in the minority.

  3. Attempting to block all the drains and hoping the pressure doesn’t get too high reminds me of a story of a young Ensign on his first cruise who missed the instruction of how a submarine toilet worked, entering the head in his dress white and emerging later in wet khakis!

  4. This article brings to light exactly why no one can count on bugging in, unless of course you want to be scuba diver for Rota-Rooter.

  5. In a true “grid-down, not coming back up” scenario if you have the property (or maybe even if you don’t), your best bet would be to create a cesspool. The house that I bought about 10 years ago was grandfathered in to not being required by county ordinance to have a septic tank. I found it disgusting first and wanted it filled in and a septic tank installed, but when a guy from the local septic service came out to give me a quote, he said that I had the best possible solution and that if it were his house, he would never get rid of it. I asked him if it would stink during the summer (I bought the house in late winter). He said that as long as I didn’t kill any of the vegetation that grows in it, that I would more than likely fall in it before I smelled it. He was right.

    I never have to worry about it backing up, it requires no power and extremely little maintenance. Overall I am pleased to have one less thing to worry about.

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