Prevention Program 



MSD's Sewer Backup (SBU) Program offers a Prevention Program for customers with recurring backups caused by inadequate capacity in the MSD public sewer. 




If you have experienced two or more sewer backups from the MSD public sewer system over a five-year period due to inadequate capacity, you may be eligible for the installation of a backup prevention device on your property at no cost.


To determine eligibility, property owners must fill out a questionnaire describing the history of sewer backups on the property. Please contact the Prevention Program Office at (513) 244-5100 or  to obtain a questionnaire. If your property qualifies for assistance, an MSD representative will contact you by telephone to set up an interview and initial site survey. If your property does not qualify, you will receive an explanatory letter by mail.




If your property qualifies for assistance, these are the steps that will be followed. During this time, property owners and/or their tenants must not store personal property in the area experiencing sewer backups, and carpeting, flooring, or drywall must not be installed in this area.


This process takes on average 6 months to one year but could take longer depending on the specifics of your property and weather conditions.


Property Owner Interview and Initial Site Survey


  • An MSD representative will interview you either in person or by telephone to gather additional information about your property.


Property Investigation


  • An MSD representative will visit your property to conduct a site investigation. This investigation can include:
    • Examining the inside of your building sewer and internal plumbing systems using a video camera.
    • Dye testing your internal plumbing system and gutters, downspouts, or drains.
    • Surveying elevations of the property and collecting information on your property's drainage, layout, and construction.


Solution Identification Design


  • MSD will develop a solution specific to your property's needs to prevent future backups. Possible solutions may include:
    • Installing a backflow prevention device.
    • Installing a wastewater pump system.
  • An MSD representative will work closely with you to review the design plan and installation process. You will be required to approve and sign off on all plans and schedules prior to the start of any work.
  • You will also be required to sign a binding Covenant and Agreement document. This is your legal acceptance of the proposed modifications to your property. This contract also applies to any future owners of your property and will be recorded on the property's deed. 


Photo of the control panel for a backup prevention device
SBUPP control panel





Photo of the lid of a backup prevention device in a front yard
SBUPP device in yard




  • MSD will select a contractor to install the backup solution and will work with you to schedule the work. Any proposed modifications will be documented with As-Built drawings and/or photographs.
  • MSD will obtain all necessary permits for the project.
  • If the device runs on electricity, the necessary electrical work (e.g., wiring, outlets, panel upgrades) will be included in the project.
  • During construction, you must provide sufficient access to the property so the work can be completed.


Solution Identification Design

After Installation


  • If the device requires electricity to operate, you will be required to provide and pay for the electricity.
  • To ensure the solution is working properly, MSD may perform periodic maintenance inspections.
  • Most devices are equipped with a high water alarm. If the alarm sounds, property owners and/or tenants must contact MSD immediately at (513) 352-4900 to report the alarm and limit water usage. An MSD contractor will contact you to set up a site visit. Service calls and repairs will be provided by MSD unless it is found that the terms of the Covenant and Agreement have been broken by the property owner or their tenant.
Photo of construction of a backup prevention device
Construction of a backup prevention device



Photo Construction of a backup prevention device
Construction of a backup prevention device



Need assistance with your prevention device?

If Your Alarm Is Sounding

(513) 352-4900 24/7

Prevention Office

(513) 244-5100

Prevention Email

Email us