Evanston news delivered free to your inbox! 


In the Event of a Sewer Emergency

Between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., call 311 (847-448-4311 outside the city) and state the nature of the emergency. If the emergency occurs after 7:00 p.m., call the Utilities Department after-hours emergency number at 847-475-6880. An employee will be dispatched to analyze the cause of the problem as soon as possible.

Do not use toilets and sinks unless absolutely necessary, as water sent down your drain will end up adding to the problem.

Sewage Back-up and Flooding

There are two different types of basement flooding.

  1. If the water in the basement is clear, this indicates that storm water has entered the basement through window wells or doors, that storm water has seeped into the basement through cracks in the basement walls or floor or that a sump pump has failed. These types of issues cannot be resolved by the city. However, they should be reported so the city can take appropriate action if warranted.
  2. If the water in the basement is discolored and has an odor, this indicates that sewage water has backed-up or entered the basement through floor drains, sump pumps, toilets or laundry sinks. Please contact the city via 311 if you suspect the water entering your basement is sewage water. An investigation will be conducted to determine if the city sewer has contributed to your problem.

Causes of Sewage Back-ups:

  1. The City’s combined sewer system has become overwhelmed by excessive rainfall. More storm water has entered the combined sewer system than it can handle, causing water to back-up into basements. Unfortunately. there isn’t anything that can be done to relieve this type of flooding until after the rain event subsides and sewer flow returns to normal.
  2. There is a blockage in the city sewer. Debris, roots or a sewer collapse blocks or hinders the flow of the sewage in the city’s combined sewer system. The city’s Sewer Division will take corrective action to eliminate the problem so normal flow can be re-established.
  3. There is a blockage in the homeowner’s private sewer lateral.
  • Debris, roots or a sewer collapse blocks or hinders the flow of sewage in the property owner’s sewer lateral, or the sewer lateral becomes overwhelmed by storm water.
  • The property owner will need to contact a plumber to clear the blockage or repair a collapsed pipe in the sewer lateral. We recommend that the homeowner seek three quotes from licensed plumbers for any type of sewer work. Property owners are welcome to contact the Utilities Department via 311 to review the plumber’s recommendations, but ultimately the property owner must make the decision on how to proceed.
  • Frequently, private sewer back-ups are a result of the sewer lateral becoming overwhelmed by the amount of storm water entering it from roof gutters and downspouts. The Utilities Department highly recommends that all downspouts discharge to the ground rather than being connected to the sewer lateral. Please contact the Utility Department via 311 to receive guidance on downspout disconnection.

More info –> Sewer Systems page