Impacts of storm characteristics on generating sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) events for an urban sewershed

Document Type


Publication Title

Papers in Applied Geography


Combined sewers often overflow during intensive storm activity as the capacity of the system is exceeded in response to excess stormwater inflow. Uncontrolled releases of untreated stormwater as sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) are also possible but are far less documented, mainly due to a lack of available data, despite being a serious issue for many communities across the US. This study conducted a quantitative analysis of several key storm variables with the aim of identifying occurrence thresholds toward triggering overflows for a residential sewershed in the city of Louisville, Kentucky. Using 5-minute rainfall data and the SSO event database from the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), results indicated that occurrence thresholds in total storm rainfall depth (35.6mm) and maximum storm intensity (50 mm/hr) were present which could be used to classify storms as overflow versus non-overflow events. Additionally, the majority of overflow events resulted from storms with ratios below 0.5 and could be classified as 1-year storm frequency events across all storm durations. Discriminant analysis further identified these variables as significant in grouping the storms into overflow versus non-overflow events. By analyzing the sensitivity of known SSOs within the metro sewer system to various storm characteristics and resulting stormwater inflow this research could provide stormwater planners and affected residents with better predictive and potential management capabilities for future SSO events.

First Page


Last Page



Publication Date