It is generally accepted that sewage pumping stations are directly responsible for affecting sewer system performance in terms of combined sewer overflows and flooding. However, the specific causes of pump failure are unknown. This paper presents the analysis of pump failure data provided by four sewer management authorities in The Netherlands. Pump failures have been studied accounting for the nature of failures, operation and maintenance procedures of the management authority, ageing of the pumps and changes in the environment of pumps. Pumps have been clustered on the basis of specific characteristics of their ‘environment’, including pump age, operating time, pump capacity and degree of pollution of the sewage. The analysis shows that the well known ‘bathtub’ type failure rate curve can describe failures of sewage pumps. The impact of the degree of pollution of the sewage, however, is less clear. Operating time and total pumping capacity show no correlation with failure rate. Consequently, further research using data mining techniques is needed to separate the impact of the different aspects of the environment of a pump.

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