Sump Pump Regulations


Refer to City of Watertown Ordinances Title 17 Sections 17.0602 and 17.0603. To view ordinance scroll below and click on the green top services button labeled Ordinances.

Sump pumps are prohibited from discharging into the sanitary sewer. However, annually during winter months in freezing conditions (October 15 through March 15) all homes and businesses with operational sump pumps may make request for a variance that permits the discharge of sump pump water into the sanitary sewer.

Please be advised that if you are identified as discharging unpolluted water and/or sump pump discharges into the sanitary sewer when the temporary seasonal variance period is not in effect or without a written variance during the temporary seasonal variance period you could be subjected to the criminal penalties associated with a Class 2 Misdemeanor, including up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. Additionally, each day on which noncompliance shall occur or continue to occur shall be deemed a separate and distinct violation.


Written notices of variance will be granted as necessary in October each year. The seasonal variance will be issued for a specific period and must be renewed each year. The fee for obtaining a seasonal sump pump variance is $125 annually, which includes a $25 application fee. If you have such a need, please make your request to the Wastewater Treatment Facility by clicking here and completing the request form.  You may also call the Wastewater Treatment Facility at (605) 882-6244 to request a variance.


To receive variance start and end date notifications by email and/or a text message:

  • Go to:
  • Enter your email address and click the “Sign In” button.
  • Click the “Available Lists” dropdown tab and select “Alert Center” or scroll down to the “Alert Center” area. Find “Wastewater Alerts” under that area.
  • To the left of “Wastewater Alerts", click the envelope icon to receive notifications via email or the phone icon to receive notifications via text. You may also click both icons.
  • If you click the envelope icon, you will be asked to confirm your subscription by clicking a link in an email that will be sent to you. If you click the phone icon, you will be asked to enter your phone number.
  • Finally, log out or close the webpage.


Remember to lay your sump pump hose out on a declining surface (board, eaves trough, etc.) so it drains empty. This will eliminate / significantly reduce the potential for your discharge line to freeze.

Wastewater 1

Wastewater 2

If you have an underground discharge line from your home, the installation of a "T" as the line exits your home is essential. The "T" will allow you to connect a flexible hose and route the discharge to an alternative discharge location when the temporary seasonal variance period is not in effect and the underground discharge line is frozen.

Wastewater 3 square


  • The installation of gutters and downspouts is an effective and easy means of water management if downspout extensions are in place and long enough to convey the water away from the foundation.
  • The average roof will shed a significant amount of water. A 1,500 square foot home with a double garage can collect and divert more than 25,000 gallons of water in a normal year. Without gutters and downspouts, all of this water lands at the perimeter of the house and, consequently, is collected and routed to the sump pump. The installation of gutters with extension downspouts may reduce your sump pump discharge. Window wells should be set above grade, have a watertight seal to the foundation, have some type of light transmitting cover, and easily removable if the window is an egress type.
  • If you have gutters installed, ensure they discharge at a point away from the home. A common mistake is to place downspouts where they discharge at the base of the foundation. By diverting the water away from the foundation you may be able to reduce or even eliminate the amount of time the sump pump runs in a day.
  • Route the sump pump discharge hose / piping as far away from your home’s foundation as possible.
  • Minimize the watering of shrubs and vegetation close to foundation walls. If watering is necessary, use drip irrigation rather than sprinklers that cast water over a vast area.
  • Trim heavy growths of shrubbery so that soil gets more sunlight and dries quicker.
  • Insure that the soil or landscaping around the perimeter of your entire home slopes away from the foundation. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t clearly see the slope with your eye it’s not sloped enough. Where a large area of land slopes toward the house, surface drainage should be intercepted and rerouted some distance from the house.

Rear Slope Figure

  • Compact the existing soil well in the area within 6 feet of the entire perimeter of your home before and during landscaping. Utilize clay soils on the top 4 inches of the ground, heavy plastic, or rubber sheeting in this area to reduce water from percolating down.
  • If installing landscaping edging, insure that it is not acting like a dam holding water inside the landscaped area. Cut or drill holes in the black plastic below the round top to allow water to drain. On all edging, leave gaps or a low point for water to drain out otherwise the plastic underneath the landscaping rock may actually funnel water to the foundation.
  • Window wells should be set above grade, have a watertight seal to the foundation, have some type of light transmitting cover, and easily removable if the window is an egress type.