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Public Water Systems

Our Water Systems

In Hampton Roads, three very important water systems make up our regional infrastructure. Each system has a separate and specific purpose from the others. You’ve flushed a toilet, let the faucet flow and watched water rush down the street during a rainstorm. But do you really understand where our water comes from – and where it goes?

  • How does the Stormwater System Work?
    The stormwater system takes rain water away from homes and streets through the stormwater openings you see on your neighborhood curb or the grates in the pavement. Unlike the wastewater that comes from inside your home, stormwater is not cleaned at a treatment plant. Instead, it flows to our local waterways. Learn more about stormwater runoff and how to prevent pollution.
  • How does the Drinking Water System Work?
    Hampton Roads raw water sources include aquifers, reservoirs, lakes and rivers. Most of our drinking water comes from surface water which is pumped to water treatment plants. The water passes through screens, then chemicals are added to remove impurities. Next, the clarified water is disinfected to kill bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms, then filtered to remove any remaining particles. Finally, a secondary disinfectant is added to maintain disinfection throughout the pipe system. Once the water is cleaned and safe to drink, it is pumped through a network of pipes and storage facilities to homes and businesses. Learn more about healthy drinking water and our aging water infrastructure.
  • How does the Sanitary Sewer System Work?
    Wastewater leaving our homes travels through miles of pipes to nine treatment plants across the region. Because of the flat landscape, sewer pumping stations are used to push the wastewater to the treatment plants. At the treatment facility, debris is screened and settled out of the wastewater. Bacteria and other small organisms then consume the waste and help clean the water. Finally, it is disinfected before being released back into local waterways. Learn more about our aging infrastructure and what not to flush down the drain.
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