Private Sewer Lateral

Sewer Lateral graphic

Did you know homeowners have a responsibility to maintain their portion of the Sanitary Sewer Collections System?

Homeowners are required to maintain the full length of the Private Sewer Lateral which extends from the property to the sewer main located in the street or a nearby easement. Maintaining the Private Sewer Lateral includes keeping the line flowing and free of debris such as grease build-up and tree roots.

What is a Private Sewer Lateral?

The Private Sewer Lateral, also known as "Sewer Lateral" and "Service Lateral Line," is a pipe that conveys a property's wastewater to the public sewer main in the street. Maintenance and repair of the full length of the Private Sewer Lateral is the responsibility of the property owner. The portion of the Private Sewer Lateral that extends beyond the property line in the public right of way is also the owner's responsibility to maintain and repair.

What is a Sewer Main?

A Sewer Main, also called a "Sewer Main Line" is a publicly owned pipeline that receives wastewater flows from Private Sewer Laterals for the collection of wastewater. Sewer Mains convey wastewater through the City's portion of the Sanitary Sewer Collection System for wastewater treatment.

What can happen if a Private Sewer Lateral is not properly maintained?

If a Private Sewer Lateral is improperly maintained, it may create a blockage in the line which can cause raw sewage to back up into the property. Unfortunately, many Private Sewer Laterals go unmaintained until a leak or backup occurs and causes damages to the interior of the property. Unmaintained Private Sewer Laterals that become blocked or fail can also contribute to Sanitary Sewer Overflows in the public wastewater collections system, risking a public health hazard.

How can I manage my Private Sewer Lateral?

Repairing a crack or correcting a backup in the Private Sewer Lateral is generally much more costly than performing regular maintenance and adopting best practices. The following measures can help minimize the risk of a backup or failure of the Private Sewer Lateral:

  • Maintain your lateral through proper cleaning, repair, and replacement. It is generally recommended to inspect the sewer lateral every 5 to 10 years.
  • Install a cleanout pipe in the Private Sewer Lateral if one is not already present.
  • Never pout fats, oils, or grease in drains as these will harden and stick to the inside of pipes, potentially causing a blockage. 

SBMWD Rule and Regulation 1 Definitions (Selected)

"Private Sewer Lateral" shall mean the privately owned and maintained wastewater collection pipe or conduit extending from the premises where the wastewater is generated (house sewer) up to, but not including, the connection to the City’s or satellite service area’s collection system. Same meaning as "Service Lateral Line" and "Sewer Lateral".

"Sewer Main" shall mean the system of piping or conduit installed in or under any public street, alley, place, or easement on private property for the purposes of collecting wastewater. This definition includes all devices, equipment, pipes, and systems used in the transmission, storage, treatment, recycling and reclamation of municipal wastewater, sludge, industrial wastewater, except sewer laterals. Same as "Sewer Main Line.”

SBMWD Rule and Regulation 7 Section 2.1

Maintenance of Private Sewer Laterals: Inoperative private sewer laterals, including the portion in the portion within the public right of way, shall be maintained in good condition (and free of defects) by the User. Inoperative private sewer laterals constituting a “nuisance,” as that term is defined in California Health and Safety Code section 5410, shall be subject to the regulations outlined by Health and Safety Code sections 5410 through 5416 and such regulations shall be enforced by the City’s Public Works Department. All such maintenance and repairs shall be performed at the User’s own expense, and they shall be liable for all damages, which may result from failure to do so. Users shall comply with all requirements under the San Bernardino Municipal Code and applicable Rules and Regulations of the SBMWD prior to excavating anywhere within the public right-of-way for the purpose of maintaining and/or repairing the User’s private sewer lateral. The repair of inoperative private sewer laterals is also addressed in Chapter 13.08 of the San Bernardino Municipal Code.

San Bernardino Municipal Code 13.08.010 Regulation of Wastewater Connections by Water Board 

In accordance with Section 603 of the City Charter, the Water Board shall be responsible for oversight and management of the City’s wastewater collection system, including the regulation of connections. Any rules or regulations promulgated by the Water Board in connection with its powers under Section 603 of the City Charter may be enforced as laws of the City in accordance with Chapter 2.28 of this Municipal Code.

Property Water and Sewer Connections

View the Understanding Your Water & Sewer Connections infographic for a helpful reference when identifying service lines of responsibility.

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