Safety Policies and Procedures Manual
Chapter 6: Public Health and Environmental Quality

Sewage Spills and Cleanup

SPPM 6.70

For more information contact:
   Environmental Health and Safety

Major Overflows

University personnel are to inform the campus Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) whenever a sewage spill greater than five gallons occurs.

Contact Telephone Numbers

During business hours, contact the applicable campus EH&S by telephone:

WSU Pullman EH&S telephone: 509-335-3041

WSU Spokane EH&S telephone: 509-358-7621

WSU Spokane EH&S also provides information and assistance to WSU Health Sciences–Yakima (which includes the College of Nursing–Yakima and College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences–Yakima)

WSU Tri-Cities EH&S telephone: 509-372-7234
WSU Vancouver EH&S telephone: 360-546-9706

Personnel at WSU locations not listed above may contact WSU Pullman EH&S for further information and assistance during business hours.

After Business Hours

The following contact procedures apply after business hours.

WSU Pullman and Locations Not Listed Above

Call 509-335-9000 for sewage spills at WSU Pullman and other WSU locations not listed above that occur outside of normal business hours.

WSU Spokane

For sewage spills at WSU Spokane that occur outside of normal business hours, contact Facilities Operations; telephone 509-358-7994.


For sewage spills at WSU Tri-Cities that occur at any time, contact WSUTC EH&S: telephone 509-372-7234.

WSU Vancouver

For sewage spills at WSU Vancouver that occur outside of normal business hours, contact the Public Safety pager; telephone 360-690-1527. Once notified, the Public Safety Officer on duty contacts the on-call Facilities personnel.

Immediate Notification

Notify campus EH&S immediately if the spill:

  • Is in a food service or food preparation area.
  • Is in any public area where there is a potential for human exposure.
  • May enter or flow into surface waters (streams, ponds, lakes, wetlands) or storm drains.
Surface Waters, Storm Drains

Properly trained personnel should attempt to prevent the spill from entering surface waters or storm drains prior to notifying campus EH&S.

If sewage from a spill actually enters or flows into surface waters or storm drains, campus EH&S contacts the Washington State Department of Ecology within 24 hours of being informed of the incident.

The responder must provide campus EH&S with estimates of:

  • Volume of sewage that entered the surface water or storm drain;
  • Location of the spill(s);
  • When the discharge occurred; and
  • Duration of the discharge.

Other Incidents

For less serious incidents, contact campus EH&S when reasonably feasible, e.g., the next morning for a spill occurring the previous evening. See Contact Telephone Numbers above.

Cleanup Personnel

Personnel who perform sewage spill cleanup must be properly trained in accordance with their departmental bloodborne pathogen plan and employ good personal hygiene practices.

Uninvolved Individuals

Cleanup personnel are to ensure that individuals not involved in the cleanup and disinfection of the sewage spill remain out of the area until the contamination has been removed and the area disinfected.

Minor Overflows

When a toilet overflows or drain backs up and the overflow volume is less than five gallons, contact campus Facilities Services or Auxiliary Services for cleanup. It is not necessary to notify campus EH&S in such cases.

Sewage Disposal

Cleanup personnel are to use the sanitary sewer system (toilet, sewer manhole, sanitary sewer manhole, or floor drains) to dispose of sewage. Sewage is NOT to be disposed of in storm drains, gutters, ditches, surface waters or any other location where it could enter surface waters, cause groundwater contamination, or result in human exposure.

Campus EH&S Functions

It is the responsibility of campus EH&S to help ensure that sewage spills are cleaned up properly in a safe and sanitary manner in order to protect public health and the environment.

Campus EH&S departments provide training and/or guidance to help ensure that sewage spills are cleaned, disinfected, and disposed of properly, and that WSU personnel use the proper personnel protective equipment in accordance with their departmental bloodborne pathogen plan.

On a case by case basis, campus EH&S may elect to coordinate the cleanup of spills and/or assist WSU departments in sewage cleanup and disinfection.

Revisions:  Aug. 2020 (Rev. 125); Jan. 1996 (Rev. 14); May 1993 (Rev. 11*); Oct. 1992 – new policy (Rev. 10).