Smart Sewers

MSD has built a "Smart Sewer" system that is helping to reduce sewer overflows into our creeks and rivers. And the cost is less than any other solution, gray or green.

Like many wastewater utilities across the nation, MSD is faced with a multi-billion dollar Consent Decree (federal mandate) to keep raw sewage mixed with stormwater out of our waterways when it rains.

Wet Weather SCADA (click for larger view)

To help address this issue, MSD has been working to use its existing sewer system more efficiently. For example, when it rains in one part of Cincinnati, the interceptor sewers in that location may be full, but other areas where it hasn’t rained may have available capacity.

This approach, known officially as Wet Weather Operational Optimization, allows MSD to store flows inside large interceptor sewers, storage tanks, and high-rate treatment facilities in different parts of the sewer system, using sensors to measure flow levels and gates and valves to direct the flows controlled by a SCADA computer system.

This helps keep sewage in the pipes and out of our creeks.

In early 2015, MSD deployed its new smart sewer system in the Mill Creek basin, which covers the central portion of Hamilton County. Within the first several weeks of operation, the technology was used to store flows at a high-rate treatment facility, avoiding 1.4 million gallons in sewer overflows at a location nearly 11 miles away.


MSD has now incorporated this technology in its remaining basins and is advancing the construction of new "control points" at targeted overflow locations. The addition of operable gates at these locations will enable more flow to be intercepted and taken to a treatment plant when capacity is available in downstream pipes.

Early data shows that smarter sewers cost about $0.01/gallon of overflow volume reduced, as compared to about $0.23/gallon for green stormwater controls and about $0.40/gallon for larger pipes and storage tanks.

The cost savings results from not having to build as many new capital projects to reduce the overflows, such as larger sewers and storage tanks. Gray infrastructure in particular is very expensive and takes a long time to plan and construct.

South Bend, Ind. invested in a similar technology, which is projected to reduce its Consent Decree spending by about 27%. MSD's smart sewer system is anticipated to save tens of millions of dollars in capital investments in projects to control sewer overflows.

Contact Us

Report a Sewer Backup:
(513) 352-4900 24/7 or online

Customer Call Center:
(513) 352-4900 24/7

Project Customer Service:
(513) 557-3594

Development Services:
(513) 244-1330

Media Inquiries:
(513) 557-7095


MSD Mailing Address:
1600 Gest St.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45204

MSD Facilities and Directions