Discharge into the river, what actually enters the Chemung River after a rainstorm?


It is a problem that worries many in our area and there’s no easy fix: Combined Sewage Overflow.

Combined Sewage Overflow, or CSO, is when water, such as rain water, mixes with sewage.

The Chemung County Sewer Districts took 18 News out onto the streets to why we shouldn’t worry about this waste water. 

Underneath the streets are a system of pipes that come from as far as West Elmira.

This system carries waste water, but during a rainstorm rain will enter the system through sewers. Because the tubes cannot handle the excess water, that water needs to be dumped somewhere.

This overflow, the CSO, is almost entirely rainwater. This is what enters the river.

“Any human bodily waste, solids of the life, those are floating in the bottom of the pipe,” Matthew Hourihan, the executive director for the Chemung County Sewer Districts, said. “(It is) not getting up to the point where it’s overflowing and getting into the river.”

The water gets discharged along discharge points. In the City of Elmira, some of those points are located along Water Street.

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