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Sewer Laterals

All side sewers within the boundaries of San Rafael Sanitation District must conform to the District's Standard Specifications.

Laterals are the privately owned portion of the sewer pipe that connects your home to the public sewer main. It is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain and repair the lateral.  See District's Ordinance No. 54.

Why is maintenance so important?

Cracked and damaged sewer connection laterals on private property are causing sewer spills and backups, damaging property and threatening health. During large rainstorms, private sewer connection laterals are also allowing massive amounts of stormwater into the public sewer system, leading to spills and sometimes overwhelming sewer pipelines and treatment plants. This results in sewer spills, and overflows, sometimes causing a mixture of sewage and stormwater to backup onto streets, into homes and the Bay.

There are about as many miles of private sewer laterals in most Marin communities as there are public sewer lines. To stop spills caused by infiltration of stormwater into sewers, it is critical to repair both the public sewer pipelines and the private sewer laterals.

The primary benefit is to eventually eliminate local contamination from leaks and spills. This will result in lower overall costs, a cleaner environment, enhanced home and commercial building values, and protection of the environment. The Marin Lateral Program is seeking the cooperation of community members to create a "greener" North Bay watershed.

Check out Marin Lateral Program's instructions on how to inspect your lateral.

Sewer Lateral FAQ's

As private laterals age, just as sewer mains do, they can develop leaks, become clogged by fats, oils and grease, and become cracked by roots. This situation leads to sewage spills and overflows, threatening public health and the environment. Defective sewer laterals affect us all.

Property owners are responsible for maintaining the entire length of the sewer lateral, including the portion that runs under the street.

Yes. During wet weather, stormwater enters through cracks and breaks, allowing massive amounts of stormwater to enter the public sewer system, causing additional spills and overloading the wastewater treatment process. The result increases the threat to public health, requires costly upgrades to the public system, and has, at times, contaminated San Francisco Bay and its tributaries

The simple answer is not to put anything down the drain or in the toilet that could cause problems. This includes: fats, oils and grease, medications, wipes and hazardous liquids. Fats, oils and grease clog sewer lines, and medications and hazardous liquids pose challenges for the sewage treatment process. Also, never connect any storm drain to a sewer lateral. This would greatly increase the flow in the sewer system during wet weather and could lead to spills, overflows and other problems.

A sewer lateral, or side-sewer, is a privately-owned sewer pipeline connecting private property, such as a home or business, to the publicly-owned main sewer line, typically located in the middle of the street. It is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain and repair the lateral.

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