If you experience a sewer problem, please call the Russellville Wastewater Department at 270-726-5037 (after 4:00 pm and Saturday, Sunday and Holidays call 270-772-3759) and state that you are reporting a sewer problem with a stopped up sewer line, sewer odors, overflowing manhole or lift station alarm.

What is a Sewer Lateral?

A sewer lateral (some call it a sewer service) is the pipeline between the City sanitary sewer main, and the building. The sewer lateral is owned and maintained by the property owner. The cause of a backup in your lateral is usually from items in the line that are not meant to be there, such as children’s toys, underwear, towels, diapers or paper products (not toilet paper). What you flush down your toilet may not affect you, but it might cause problems for your neighbors! Another possible cause would be roots or grease in your lateral. When having a drainage problem inside the building /residence if, all other drains are working and one is not, then the problem is normally in the indoor plumbing.

If the problem is in the sewer lateral, the homeowner or business is responsible for correcting the problem. Each customer/owner is responsible for the normal routine maintenance and inspection of the sanitary sewer service line serving the property from the building to the point where it connects to the city’s main sewer. For easy maintenance, the homeowner must install a double sweep within 5 feet of the building. In cases where the customer or customer’s plumber cannot clear the line outside of the customer’s property by normal sewer "rodding" methods or it becomes necessary to replace the noted portion of service line, the city will assume responsibility for major maintenance, repair, or replacement of that applicable portion of the sewer service from the city sewer main tap to the point it crosses onto the owner’s property or easement.. Each customer/owner is required at his expense to repair/replace the domestic sanitary sewer service if found defective by the city during inspections of the sanitary sewer system.


...before calling a plumber if all your drains are stopped up. We will check the sewer main and let you know what we find. If the problem is not in the City main you will then be advised to contact a plumber.

If the problem is in the sewer lateral, whom do you call for help?

You will need to call a plumber. Check your Yellow Pages or Business White Pages. The City cannot make a recommendation. You may find it to be in your best interest to obtain several estimates.


You can do many things to prevent your lateral from backing up. Remember that the very same things can help to prevent backups in the City main as well. If everyone would be careful about how they dispose of certain products, our systems would be more efficient, cause fewer backups, and cost us all less money.


Please do not pour or discharge any type of oil or grease in your drain.
Put it in the trash after it cools. Some people assume that washing grease down the drain with hot water works. This is not true. Grease goes down the drain, cools off and solidifies either in your drain, the lateral line, or in the main sewer. The line will constrict and will stop up.


Plants will seek water and find their way into sewer line cracks. Roots can cause extensive damage. They start out small, getting into a small crack in the pipe; but as the plant grows so does the root. One way to prevent roots from entering your line is to replace the line with new plastic pipe. The other alternative is to be careful about planting greenery around your sewer line. If you have continuing problems with tree roots in your lateral, you may have to have them cut periodically by a plumber.

Paper Products:

Paper towels, disposable (and cloth) diapers, and feminine products cause many of the problems in the lateral as well as in the city main. They do not deteriorate quickly, like toilet paper. They become stuck in the lateral/main, causing a sewer backup. These products should also be disposed of in the trash.

Sewer Odor:

Another problem a property owner may have is that they can smell sewer odors inside their house or building. There are many ways to prevent this from occurring. Under each drain in your plumbing system, there is a “P-Trap”. If there is water in this P-Trap, odors or gases from the sewer cannot enter through the drain. Periodically check to make sure that unused floor drains, sinks etc., have water in the “P-trap”. Another way to prevent sewer odor is to ensure that the vents, which are located on your roof, are free from bird nests, leaves, etc. When these vents are clear, the sewer odors will escape through these vents. If you have an odor problem please call RWWT at 270-726-5037.


Illegal Plumbing Connections:

Do not connect rain gutter down spouts, sump pumps and other flood control systems to your sanitary sewer. It is illegal, and debris and silt will clog your line. Consult a plumber to correct any illegal connections.


Please do not flush needles or other sharp items into wastewater collection system. The presence of these needles in the wastewater collection system presents special and possibly deadly problems for wastewater collection and wastewater treatment employees.


Do not open or enter any City manholes. Please do not put anything inside of a manhole. Please do not cover or bury a manhole. The cover for the manhole must remain visible so that when a stoppage occurs the maintenance personnel can find the manhole quickly to perform their maintenance and to prevent possible property damage. If you see anyone not associated with RWWT opening a city manhole, please notify RWWT or the Police Department immediately. If you see sewage surcharging from a manhole, please contact RWWT.


Currently there are 10 sanitary lift stations in the City of Russellville. Sanitary sewer lift stations pump sewage “uphill” to the collection system 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sanitary sewage must pass through the collection system pipes to the wastewater treatment plant by gravity sewer. When a development is in a low area, the sewage must be pumped uphill to the nearest gravity sewer manhole. When a lift station has a malfunction a red light will be flashing on the station. If you see a station with a red flashing light please call 726-5037 during the hours of 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday. After hours, on holidays or weekends, call the emergency number 772-3759.

During times when there is a power outage in your area we ask that you limit your sewer use to prevent sewer overflows. Not all of our lift stations have back up electric power generators and have limited storage capacity. Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated.




The City is responsible for maintaining sewer mains, manholes, pump stations and force mains that are in City rights-of-way and easements and on City property. Maintenance of sewer service lines from the City-owned system to the property owner’s structure is the responsibility of the property owner. The Russellville Wastewater Department expends significant resources, through an extensive preventive maintenance program, to keep the sewer system in a good state of repair. Occasionally, however, forces of nature or conditions develop within the system that may cause sewage to backup into a residence or business which are beyond the City’s control and which are not incidents in which the City bears responsibility or legal liability. For the purpose of this discussion, the term “sanitary sewer backup” or “sewer backup” means any backup of sewage from the City-owned and maintained sanitary sewer or sewer force main system. It does not include storm water backups.


The City shall not be responsible or assume any liability or responsibility for any direct or indirect damages or costs associated with sewage blockage or backup onto private property unless such back up and resulting damage is a result of negligence on the part of the Russellville Wastewater Department. It shall be the responsibility of the party claiming such damages to show negligence on the part of the Russellville Wastewater Department. Any such claims for damages must be submitted in writing, including proof of negligence on the part of the Russellville Wastewater Department, to the Public Utility Director. Should the Director determine the damage is a result of negligence on the part of the Russellville Wastewater Department the claim shall be forwarded to the Mayor and City Council. All claims must be filed within thirty (30)days of the incident. It is recommended that all private property owners obtain home, renters or commercial insurance that covers sewage blockage or backups.


The Russellville Wastewater Department will take the necessary action as directed in the SORP to relieve the sewer overflow if it is coming from the City's own main. The City will attempt to make a determination as to the location of the blockage and/or the cause of the backup. Where the backup occurred as a result of work being done by the property owner on or blockage within the sewer main or service line, the property owner will be notified of the suspected cause of the backup and advised to call for professional assistance, if so desired.

Immediately following response to a sewer backup call, City representatives will make a full report of the call.