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What Is the Difference Between Sewage and Sewerage?


In our day-to-day lives, all of us normally wake up fresh out of bed, brush our teeth, take a bath, eat our breakfast, wash the dishes, water our plants, and so much more. Well, have you ever noticed that most of what we do every day requires the use of water?

Are you aware of the fact that every time you turn on the faucet, the water you most likely use will go down the drain to somewhere most of us don’t even know anything about? We just wash our hands, look at the water drain, and turn it off.

How Drainage Works

The process of draining water is way more complicated than you think. The water runs down a hole, into small house pipes, into bigger council pipes, for many kilometers to then arrive at its destination.

In most cases, not everyone knows the difference between sewage and sewerage. Is it the same thing or two completely different things. Today, we are going to look at what those two words really mean, as a learning matter and something that may benefit anyone searching for a definition.

What Is Sewage (the poo)?

Before the 20th century, sewage was usually discharged into a body of water such as a stream, river, lake, bay, or ocean. There was no treatment, so the breakdown of the human waste was left to the ecosystem. Now, the word “sewage” refers to liquids or waste matter usually carried off by sewers.

In the modern world, the word sewage is slowly being replaced by the word “waste water,” also meaning that any water that has been affected by human use, making these two words similar in the way that in the end, we humans produce waste that is to be carried out by any means of transportation, such as sinks, tubs, showers, dishwashers, clothes washers, toilets, pipes, etc.

It can be also referred to as domestic wastewater or municipal wastewater that is produced by a community of people. It is characterized by volume or rate of flow, physical condition, chemical and toxic constituents, and its bacteriologic status.

Sewage usually travels from a building’s plumbing either into a sewer, which will carry it elsewhere, or into an onsite sewage facility. Whether it is combined with surface runoff in the sewer depends on the sewer design.

The reality is that most wastewater produced globally remains untreated causing widespread water pollution, especially in low-income countries. As well as many developing countries the bulk of domestic and industrial wastewater is discharged without any treatment or after primary treatment. It may not seem like it, whether or not these are good for the environment or not, but once you see the fuller picture of how much the sewage actually helps us in our day to day lives, it makes a huge difference.

What Is Sewerage (what carries the poo)?

On the other hand, the word “sewerage” refers to the provision of drainage by sewers. Sewerage is an infrastructure that transports sewage, like storm water, meltwater, rainwater, by using sewers. It encompasses components such as receiving drains, manholes, pumping stations, storm overflows, and screening chambers of the combined sewer or sanitary sewer.

Sewerage opens an entry to a sewage treatment plant or at the nearest point of discharge into the environment. It is a system of pipes, chambers, manholes, etc. that holds the sewage from the waste makers above.

In American colloquial English, “sewer system” is applied more frequently to the large infrastructure of sewers that British speakers more often refer to as “sewerage”. Almost all the countries of the world have sewerages, but this does not mean that they are the best of ones.

Countries like New Zealand, Venice, and Amsterdam have a great sewerage, and on the spectrum, we also have countries like Bangladesh, India, and other third world countries that need help in making better sewerage’s for their citizens.


To sum things up, these two work hand in hand. One cannot work without the other and vice versa. A sewage is a part of a sewerage and a sewerage is a part of a sewage.

The simplest way to explain the two different words is this – sewage is the waste that is produced by people while sewerage is the structure that holds the sewage within its “stomach.” In the end, it is only us humans and the rain that uses these systems, and we need to make sure that these two things will be used correctly in our lives, making sure to clean the area properly, separating water-type waste and solid-type waste, so that it – the waste water – would be easier to recycle.

At Drainage NZ, we help you with your sewer and sewerage needs. We have over 20 years of drainage experience! We are experienced, qualified, and have all the toys to do anything that relates to drainage in New Zealand.