Sheffield's sewer and drainage system was built by the then town council in the 1870s, with further major works carried out in 1910. At first raw sewage was pumped into rivers but in 1886 a sewage treatment plant was constructed in Blackburn Meadows, at the eastern end of the city.

In the 1960s the city council became increasingly concerned with the condition and operation of the main sewers as Sheffield continued to grow in size. It was agreed to build a new sewer to serve the inner part of the Sheffield drainage area and led to 26 'unsatisfactory' storm sewage overflows being abandoned.