A sanitary sewer or foul sewer is an underground pipe or tunnel system for transporting sewage from houses and commercial buildings (but not stormwater) to treatment facilities or disposal. Sanitary sewers are part of an overall system called a sewage system or sewerage.
Sewage may be treated to control water pollution before discharge to surface waters. Sanitary sewers serving industrial areas also carry industrial wastewater.
Separate sanitary sewer systems are designed to transport sewage alone. In municipalities served by sanitary sewers, separate storm drains may convey surface runoff directly to surface waters. Sanitary sewers are distinguished from combined sewers, which combine sewage with stormwater runoff in one pipe. Sanitary sewer systems are beneficial because they avoid combined sewer overflows.