Private Sewer Lateral

On January 1, 2015, Alameda became part of the EBMUD Regional Private Sewer Lateral (PSL) Program. For program requirements, click here.

What Is a Sewer Lateral?

A sewer lateral is the pipe that conveys sewage from a building's plumbing to the City sewer system.  The property owner handles the maintenance and replacement of the upper sewer lateral only – the part on private property.  The City handles the lower sewer lateral, which is the part from the property line to the sewer main. 

This division of responsibility is a bit different if you live in a condominium or Homeowner's Association. See the Regional PSL Program's Guidelines for Condominiums and Other Common Interest Developments.

Maintenance Requirements

Your PSL should be:
  • Free of any roots, grease deposits, and other solids which may obstruct the flow
  • Watertight and does not have any structural defects, cracks, breaks, openings, rat holes, or missing portions
  • Have a two way cleanout located at the property line or at the Sewer Main easement (all cleanouts should be properly capped at all times)
  • Free from any non-sewer connections to it (i.e. roof drain, area drain)
These requirements are in the Alameda Sewer Lateral Ordinance and EBMUD Private Sewer Lateral Ordinance.

Problems When Not Maintained

An unmaintained PSL increases the chance of blockage in the pipe, which can cause raw sewage to back up into a building. This can end up costing the property owner a lot of money to clean up from the impacts. It also allows storm water to enter the pipe through cracks and other defects.  This can overload the sewer system and treatment facilities during wet weather, resulting in untreated sewage entering the San Francisco Bay.

Who Needs to Fix Their PSL and When?

You can voluntarily repair or replace your PSL at any time (for example, if you are experiencing frequent sewer backups). If this is the case, still get an EBMUD Compliance Certificate to prove your new or repaired PSL is free of leaks.  

Is a City Permit Required for PSL Work?

In most cases, only the EBMUD Compliance Certificate is required, except when:
  • The two-way cleanout needs to be installed in the sidewalk area; or
  • Your PSL goes to a back or side yard sewer main.
If work is done on the sidewalk area, you must get a City Right of Way Concrete permit from the Permit Center.

If your PSL goes to a backyard or other easement sewer main, contact Public Works for easement location and help on where to install the cleanout.  

Only contractors holding a C-36 - Plumbing Contractor license or C-42 Sanitation System Contractor license should perform any PSL repair or replacement work. Please refer to EBMUD's Hiring a Contractor Guidelines.

Licensed contractors must follow the California Plumbing Code, as amended by the Alameda Plumbing Code (Chapter 13-6 of the Municipal Code).

Installing Two-way Cleanouts

If it doesn't already exist, the City requires the property owner to install a two-way cleanout on the sewer lateral at the property line. Please review the cleanout details(PDF, 244KB) and the property line setback from face of curb schematic(PDF, 6MB). Property line setbacks are block specific – select the applicable map from the index and locate the subject address. Find the Property Line Setback from Face of Curb dimension on that City block. This is where the two-way cleanout should be installed.  Any significant deviance from this must be approved by the Public Works Department.

Program Background

Since the early 1980’s, the City and other Bay Area communities in the EBMUD wastewater treatment service area have worked together to reduce wet weather sanitary sewer overflows to community streets, local creeks and waterways, and the San Francisco Bay. The replacement of old, cracked sewer pipes can decrease the amount of rainwater infiltration entering the system, which left unaddressed can overwhelm the treatment capacity of the wastewater facilities.

The City has an on-going replacement program for the publicly owned mainline pipes, manholes, pump stations and lower laterals. However, some homes in Alameda have never had their original sewer laterals replaced. Over time, these pipelines, generally made of clay, can crack, become disjointed, experience displacement, and/or be subjected to intrusion by tree roots, all which can cause leakage and blockage. This PSL Program is a mechanism to have property owners renew their part of the sewer system.