Sewer Maintenance FAQ's

What to do or numbers to call when particular circumstances arise.

Why is there a strong sewer odor in my area?

Sewer odors at catch basins can be caused by rotting leaves, low flow in an adjacent combined sewer and inappropriate dumping of dog feces, oil, paint or other pollutants. Residents can help alleviate these odors by never dumping anything into a catch basin. Catch basins are installed to collect rainwater only. Please call the Operations Center at 617.349.4800 or the Sewer Division at 617.349.4861 and leave your name, phone number and nearest address or street intersection where you smell the sewer odor.

Who do I call if I see someone dumping something into a catchbasin?

Call the Public Works' Operation Center at 617.349.4800 and leave the nearest address or intersection of the catchbasin and any identifying information of what has been dumped.

How often are catchbasins cleaned?

The sewer division cleans catchbasins every week day (weather and other conditions permitting), a section of the city at a time.  Using this cycle, our goal is to clean each catchbasin annually.

Who do I call if sewage is backed up in my basement or bathroom?

Call a plumber or drain cleaner to clean the pipe from the building to the City sewer main.  If the plumber is unable to clear the pipe, call the Sewer Division at 617.349.4848 or 617.349.4800,  Monday- Friday 7:00 am to 3:00 pm or the Off-hours Division at 617.349.4860 any other time. Please provide your name and phone number and the name and phone number of the plumber or drain cleaner.  Call a plumber or drain cleaner if the water is obviously sewage.

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Dept of Public Works

147 Hampshire St
Cambridge MA 02139


Hours of Service

Monday: 8:30am-8pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 8:30am-5pm
Friday: 8:30am-12pm