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Expanding the Private Property Virtual Library Private Sewer System Legal Issues

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The Water Environment Federation's (WEF) Collection Systems Committee (CSC) has developed an online virtual library website dedicated to private property-related issues that are encountered by many wastewater utilities. Sharing information regarding various successful strategies for tackling private property issues can be helpful to others facing similar situations.

Over the past year, the CSC's Private Property Virtual Library (PPVL) project team has concentrated on issues related to privately owned sewer systems that connect to public agency collection systems. Examples of these types of systems include developer-owned subdivisions, mobile home parks, campgrounds, lakefront vacation communities, remote developments, apartment complexes, vacuum systems and septic tank effluent pump (STEP) systems.

There are many inherent challenges to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) when dealing with privately owned sewer systems, including:

Who is responsible for maintaining private systems?

Who is responsible for responding to and reporting sanitary sewer overflows occurring in private systems?

How can POTWs enforce improvements in private systems?

What happens when ownership is transferred to the public agency?

The PPVL project team presented the workshop “Private Sewer Systems: Who Owns Them? Who Builds Them? Who Maintains Them? Utility Management and O&M Issues” at WEFTEC.09®. The workshop addressed the following topics:

Regulatory issues, liability, and legal perspectives

Connection policies

Design standards and construction inspection requirements

System ownership transfer

Private side operations and maintenance issues


Developing solutions for both public and private owners

This presentation will include highlights from the workshop and a summary of resources recently made available on
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Keywords: O&M; SSOs; funding; legal authorities; private property; private systems; public education; source control

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2010

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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