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Sewer vs. Sewage: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 7, 2024
A sewer is a system of pipes for waste transportation, while sewage refers to the actual waste water and solids transported.

Key Differences

A sewer is an underground conduit or system of pipes that carries waste water and sewage. Sewage, in contrast, is the mixture of waste water and solids that flow through sewers.
Sewers are designed as part of municipal infrastructure to ensure sanitary waste disposal. Sewage comprises domestic and industrial waste liquids and can include a variety of pollutants.
The function of a sewer system is to transport sewage from homes and businesses to treatment facilities. Sewage is treated to remove contaminants and to protect public health and the environment.
Sewers can be differentiated into sanitary sewers, storm sewers, and combined sewers, each designed for specific types of waste water. Sewage composition varies depending on its source, which can be domestic, commercial, or industrial.
Maintenance of sewers is crucial to prevent blockages and environmental pollution. Properly treating sewage is essential for recycling water and reducing water pollution.

Comparison Chart


A system of pipes for waste transport
The actual waste water and solids


Transportation of waste water
Waste water to be treated and disposed


Sanitary, storm, combined
Domestic, industrial, stormwater


Cleaning and repair of pipes
Treatment and processing

Environmental Impact

Prevents direct pollution
Requires treatment to reduce pollution

Sewer and Sewage Definitions


A sewer is a network of pipes for transporting waste water and sewage.
The city is upgrading its sewer system to prevent overflows.


Sewage refers to the liquid and solid waste carried in sewers.
Untreated sewage can pose a significant health risk.


Sewer refers to underground conduits for waste disposal.
Heavy rain can sometimes overwhelm the sewer capacity.


Sewage is a mixture of water and waste materials.
The sewage system is designed to handle both liquid and solid waste.


A sewer is a system designed for sanitary waste transportation.
A blockage in the sewer can lead to serious sanitation issues.


Sewage includes domestic, industrial, and stormwater runoff.
Heavy metals in industrial sewage require specialized treatment.


Sewer encompasses the infrastructure for waste water management.
The new housing development will connect to the existing sewer.


Sewage is waste water and solids from homes and businesses.
The sewage treatment plant processes thousands of gallons daily.


A sewer is a vital component of urban waste management.
Regular maintenance is essential to keep the sewer functioning.


Liquid and solid waste carried off in sewers or drains.


An artificial, usually underground conduit for carrying off sewage or rainwater.


A suspension of water and solid waste, transported by sewers to be disposed of or processed.


A medieval servant who supervised the serving of meals.


(obsolete) sewerage.


The contents of a sewer or drain; refuse liquids or matter carried off by sewers


Sewerage, 2.


Waste matter carried away in sewers or drains


Sewage is the substance that requires treatment for safe disposal.
Advanced technologies are used for sewage treatment.


Are all sewers underground?

Most sewers are underground, but some may be above ground in certain cases.

How do sewers connect to homes?

Sewers connect to homes via lateral pipes from the main sewer line.

What are the main sources of sewage?

Main sources include domestic households, industrial facilities, and stormwater runoff.

How is sewage treated?

Sewage is treated through physical, biological, and chemical processes at treatment plants.

What is a sewer?

A sewer is a system of underground pipes that transport waste water.

What materials are sewers made from?

Sewers are typically made from concrete, PVC, or clay.

Is sewage always harmful?

Raw sewage can be harmful due to pathogens and pollutants, but treated sewage is safe.

How are sewers maintained?

Maintenance involves cleaning, inspecting, and repairing the sewer infrastructure.

What is sewage?

Sewage is the waste water and solids that flow through sewers.

What causes sewer blockages?

Blockages are often caused by flushing inappropriate materials or tree root intrusion.

What's the difference between sanitary and storm sewers?

Sanitary sewers carry waste from homes, while storm sewers carry rainwater runoff.

Can sewage be recycled?

Yes, treated sewage can be recycled for various uses, including agriculture and industry.

Are there regulations for sewer construction?

Yes, there are strict regulations and standards for sewer construction and operation.

How long do sewers last?

With proper maintenance, sewers can last several decades.

Is sewage treatment energy-intensive?

Yes, sewage treatment can be energy-intensive, but efforts are made to increase efficiency.

Do sewers emit odors?

Sewers can emit odors, especially if not properly maintained or ventilated.

How does sewage affect the environment?

Untreated sewage can pollute water bodies and harm ecosystems.

Can sewage cause health issues?

Yes, untreated sewage can contain harmful bacteria and viruses.

Can heavy rain affect sewers?

Yes, heavy rain can overwhelm sewers, leading to overflows or backups.

Can anyone access a sewer system?

No, sewers are restricted areas due to safety and health risks.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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