Drainage System

Curbside Catch Basin
In the Town of Bethlehem, there are two systems of drainage:  the sanitary sewer system and the storm drainage system.

Sanitary Sewer System
The sanitary sewer system takes household wastewater (such as water waste from sinks, toilets, washers,etc.) and carries it through a home's plumbing and into an underground sewer pipe. From there it ultimately goes to the town's wastewater treatment plant, where the wastewater is treated and discharged into the Hudson River.

Storm Drainage System
On the other hand, and as seen in the graphic below, the storm drainage system carries discharge off of streets and routes it into curbside catch basins. From there, it also enters another underground, but completely separate, system. The storm drainage system discharges directly into multiple streams and water bodies without treatment.

Diagram depicting the two underground systems

A storm sewer drain is designed to drain excess water from paved streets, parking lots, and sidewalks. Storm drains vary in design from small dry wells, to ditches, to large piped municipal systems. They are present on most motorways, freeways and other busy roads, as well as in low-lying areas.

Drainage Problems
The Engineering Division takes requests to investigate drainage problems and answers questions from Town of Bethlehem citizens and businesses. These concerns may be reported by telephone, letter, email, or online form. Please keep requests and questions to the point, and completely describe the problem in a legible and articulate manner. All requests are entered into a searchable and organized database kept by the Engineering Division for future reference.

Installation of storm sewer and catch basin connection
Requests are handled in the order received, and in most cases an inspector will reply to the requesting person with the resolution. The Engineering Division may consult electronic map files and paper records as part of a preliminary analysis prior to the site visit. If the drainage problem is caused by a town-owned drainage system, a work order is written and town personnel are quickly dispatched to correct the deficiency.

Drainage Solutions
Common drainage solutions may include:
  • Removing debris, trash, or sediment that is clogging a pipe or catch basin
  • Regrading a ditch or swale
  • Minor repairs to a culvert or pipe to restore the original capacity
Installation of storm sewer and catch basin connection

In many instances, the drainage problem occurs on private property for which the town does not incur responsibility. In this case, the Engineering Division suggests that you seek the assistance of a professional engineer or licensed contractor to make the necessary repairs.

Report a Drainage Issue
If you would like to submit a drainage complaint, please fill out our online drainage issue form.