AskDefine | Define sewage

Dictionary Definition

sewage n : waste matter carried away in sewers or drains [syn: sewerage]

User Contributed Dictionary



sewage (uncountable)
  1. A suspension of liquid and solid waste, and water runoff, transported by sewers to be disposed of or processed.
  2. (Obsolete usage) sewerage.


Via Old French essouier = "to drain" from Late Latin exaquare. The formal Latin antecedents of "sewer" and "sewage" are exaquarium and exaquaticum.

Extensive Definition

Sewage is the mainly liquid waste containing some solids produced by humans which typically consists of washing water, faeces, urine, laundry waste and other material which goes down drains and toilets from households and industry. It is one type of wastewater. Sewage services exist to manage sewage by collection, treatment and recycling or safe disposal into the environment. As of 2004 in the U.S., 850 billion gallons of raw sewage are being dumped into waterways every year.


According to Teresi et al. (2002):The Indus architects designed sewage disposal systems on a large scale, building networks of brick effluent drains following the lines of the streets. The drains were seven to ten feet wide, cut at two feet below ground level with U-shaped bottoms lined with loose brick easily taken up for cleaning. At the intersection of two drains, the sewage planners installed cesspools with steps leading down into them, for periodic cleaning. By 2700 B.C., these cities had standardized earthenware plumbing pipes with broad flanges for easy joining with asphalt to stop leaks.
The first sanitation system have been found at the prehistoric Middle East and the surrounding areas. The first time an inverted siphon system was used, along with glass covered clay pipes, was in the palaces of Crete, Greece. It is still in working condition, after about 3000 years. The system then remained with not much progress until the 16th century, where, in England, Sir John Harington invented a device for Queen Elizabeth (his Godmother) that released wastes into cesspools.

Sewage services

Collection and disposal

A system of sewer pipes (sewers) collects sewage and takes it for treatment or disposal. The system of sewers is called sewerage or sewerage system (see London sewerage system) in UK English and sewage system in US English. Where a main sewerage system has not been provided, sewage may be collected from homes by pipes into septic tanks or cesspits, where it may be treated or collected in vehicles and taken for treatment or disposal. Properly functioning septic tanks require emptying every 2-5 years depending on the load of the system.


Sewage treatment is the process of removing the contaminants from sewage to produce liquid and solid (sludge) suitable for discharge to the environment or for reuse. It is a form of waste management. A septic tank or other on-site wastewater treatment system such as biofilters can be used to treat sewage close to where it is created.
Sewage water is a complex matrix, with many distinctive chemical characteristics. These include high concentrations of ammonium, nitrate, phosphorus, high conductivity (due to high dissolved solids), high alkalinity, with pH typically ranging between 7 and 8. Trihalomethanes are also likely to be present as a result of past disinfection.
In developed countries sewage collection and treatment is typically subject to local, state and federal regulations and standards.

Facts about sewage



  • Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science--from the Babylonians to the Maya

External links

sewage in Czech: Odpadní voda
sewage in German: Abwasser
sewage in Spanish: Aguas servidas
sewage in Persian: پساب
sewage in French: Eaux usées
sewage in Hebrew: שפכים
sewage in Occitan (post 1500): Aigassas
sewage in Polish: Ścieki
sewage in Portuguese: esgoto
sewage in Russian: Сточные воды
sewage in Sardinian: Abas residuales
sewage in Swedish: Avloppsvatten
sewage in Chinese: 污水

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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