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Private Sewer Lateral Inspection and Maintenance Practices in California

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Abstract:

The California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) is an organization that represents more than 100 wastewater agencies in California, along with more than 70 associate (consultant) members. CASA's mission is to provide leadership, advocacy and information to its members, legislators, and the public, and to promote partnerships on clean water and beneficial reuse issues that protect public health and the environment. In early 2008, CASA formed a Private Sewer Lateral (PSL) Task Force, now composed of approximately 40 representatives from the CASAmembership, to explore sponsoring legislation in California that would address the issue of private sewer laterals and their contribution to sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs).

Privately-owned sanitary sewer laterals (private laterals) can be significant contributors to both SSOs and inflow and infiltration (I/I) of stormwater into sanitary sewer systems. While publiclyowned sanitary sewer systems in California are now subject to detailed statewide waste discharge requirements, no consistent system exists for addressing overflows caused in whole or in part by private laterals. The CASA PSL Task Force is charged with framing private lateral issues, evaluating alternatives to properly maintain private laterals in the wastewater collection system to reduce the potential for both blockages and I/I (and consequent SSOs), presenting information on possible legislative approaches, and providing recommendations to the CASA Executive Board.

The PSL Task Force, with the assistance of a consulting research firm, developed a survey on private lateral issues to better gauge the current state of private lateral programs in California and evaluate CASA's possible role for support via public outreach, development of model ordinances, or support for statewide legislation. The survey collected information from each CASA member agency in three major areas:

Background information on each agency, including type and size of agency, and history of any SSO or I/I problems


Information on existing private lateral programs, including the extent of existing programs, details of both successful and failed programs, and lessons learned from each agency


Agency opinions on a wide range of private lateral issues, including the scope of private lateral problems in California, the need for assistance in maintaining private property, and possible options for statewide legislation of private lateral inspection and maintenance


This paper describes the major elements of the survey, an analysis of the results, and a summary of how the survey results influenced the work of the PSL Task Force. Highlights include statistics for current agency lateral responsibilities, details of several individual lateral programs, and California sewer agency opinions on possible private lateral legislation. This comprehensive analysis of private lateral programs and challenges faced by agencies throughout California, along with details of the experiences of the individual agencies surveyed, will be useful for collection system agencies across the country.

Keywords: CASA; I/I; Private sewer laterals; SSOs; lateral inspection; lateral legislation; lateral ordinances; private property

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864709793847366

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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