Characterization of Localities with a High Likelihood of Illicit Connections between Runoff and Sewage Systems

Environ Manage. 2020 Jun;65(6):748-757. doi: 10.1007/s00267-020-01281-w. Epub 2020 Mar 13.


Flooding of the sewage system is an environmental hazard often caused by illegal connections between drainage and sewage systems. The timely detection of such illicit connections, often done by property owners in an attempt to remove rainwater promptly from their private courtyards, is a complex task due to the high cost of field surveying and limited manpower of environmental law-enforcement authorities. This paper suggests an empirical approach to the identification and characterization of localities with an elevated likelihood of illegal connections between runoff and sewage systems. The proposed approach is implemented in three stages. First, the association between rainfall and the amount of wastewater arriving to sewage treatment facilities from different localities is analyzed. Next, regression residuals are investigated, to identify localities with an especially strong association between the amount of rainfall and sewage surplus. The identified localities are then analyzed, to determine their geographic location, physical and socioeconomic attributes. In the present study, the proposed approach is tested using data for 623 urban and rural localities in Israel. As the study shows, the probability of association between the amount of rainfall and sewage surplus, which we consider as an indicator of pirate connections between drainage and sewage systems, tends to increase as a function of socioeconomic welfare of the local residents, surface slope, and the level of urbanization. The proposed approach can help law-enforcement authorities to focus their efforts on specific locations and to reduce economic and environmental damages associated with illegal connections between drainage and sewage systems.

Keywords: Drainage; Pirate connections; Sewage system; Urbanization; Wastewater.

MeSH terms

  • Floods*
  • Israel
  • Probability
  • Rain
  • Sewage*
  • Urbanization


  • Sewage