With mandates from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, the East Bay Municipal District (EBMUD) formed the East Bay Regional Private Sewer Lateral Program.
The EBMUD PSL Program has a large impact on Bay area residents and property owners, especially those with old and aging sewer laterals in need of repair. Here’s everything you need to know about EBMUD PSL Compliance.
What is the East Bay Regional Private Sewer Lateral Program?
The East Bay Regional Private Sewer Lateral Program is an ordinance established by EBMUD to “establish regulations for the inspection, testing, repair, replacement, and ongoing maintenance of Private Sewer Laterals.”
Launched in 2011, the ordinance was created in response to old, cracked sanitary sewer pipes. These leaking pipes cause a variety of problems; the main problem was rainwater infiltration, which led to overwhelming wastewater treatment facilities and a release of partially-treated wastewater into the San Francisco Bay, thereby adding to the Bay’s already dangerous levels of pollution.
What is a private sewer lateral?
A private sewer lateral (PSL) is the pipe connecting your plumbing to the sanitary sewer main. Private sewer laterals consist of two main parts: the upper sewer lateral and the lower sewer lateral. The upper lateral is the connection from the building cleanout to the sidewalk area, and the lower lateral is the connection between the curb cleanout and the public sewer main. To minimize confusion, just note that all sewer laterals on private properties are classified as PSL’s.
In many cases, a property owner is solely responsible for the upper lateral connection (in Alameda, Albany and Berkeley). However, in certain locations in the Bay area, property owners are responsible for the upper and lower lateral as well.
What areas does the EBMUD PSL Program affect?
The Private Sewer Lateral Program applies to the following areas:
- Alameda (began January 1, 2015)
- Albany (began January 1, 2015)
- Emeryville (began August 22, 2011)
- Oakland (began January 16, 2012)
- Piedmont (began August 22, 2011)
- Kensington (began October 17, 2011)
- El Cerrito (began October 17, 2011)
- Richmond Annex (began October 17, 2011)
If you own a PSL in Berkeley, CA, your property is not affected by this program. Berkeley operates its own PSL Program with separate requirements.
Who does it affect?
The EBMUD PSL Program affects residential, commercial and industrial properties in the East Bay region.
While the program applies to all of these property types, it most immediately applies to properties with the following circumstances (also known as “triggers”):
- Buying or Selling Property
- Building or Remodeling Property (in excess of $100,000)
- Changing the Size of Your Water Meter
Even if your property does not meet any of the triggers listed above, you may still apply for a Voluntary Compliance Certificate. Voluntary EBMUD PSL compliance has several benefits, including limiting the financial impact of future triggers, compliance with local EPA mandates, and the peace-of-mind that your PSL is leak-free.
If your home has a Homeowner's Association, be sure to read our Sewer Lateral Compliance Guide for HOAs and Condo Owners.
Certain properties could be exempt from the EBMUD PSL Program. The most common reasons you might be exempt include:
- PSL is less than 10 years old (either newly-installed or fully replaced with a signed permit of completion)
- Valid, unexpired Compliance Certificate or similar documentation (ALAMEDA, ALBANY, OR STEGE SANITARY DISTRICT ONLY)
The program also makes additional exemptions for special circumstances:
- No sewer lateral existed on your property
- Not connected to the public sewer main
- Pressured private sewer lateral
- Exempt title transfer (see a list of exempted title transfers)
How do I become compliant with the Regional PSL Ordinance?
To become compliant, you must schedule and pass an inspection to receive a Compliance Certificate.
It’s important to note that EBMUD does not perform individual tests. They require that the test be conducted by a licensed contractor while an EBMUD inspector witnesses the test being performed—once the contractor has completed the test to the inspector’s satisfaction, the inspector then signs off on the test granting approval for compliance of the PSL.
It’s recommended that you contact a licensed contractor for a sewer line video inspection prior to scheduling your EBMUD verification test. This will identify any repairs that might be needed on your sewer lateral to pass the compliance test, saving you the hassle of multiple compliance tests and expense in the long run.
Once you have passed your inspection, your Compliance Certificate will be good for either a 7-year or 20-year interval. A 7-year certificate will be issued when a lateral is repaired or not currently in need of a repair and is free of leaks. A 20-year certificate will be issued if the inspected lateral has been completely replaced and is free of leaks.
What are the fees associated with the EBMUD PSL Program?
An individual Compliance Certificate will cost $225, and a Time Extension Certificate costs $94. A Lateral or Verification Test costs $66 per lateral or test.
However, there are additional fees for non-compliance. If you are found to be in violation of the EBMUD PSL program, you will be assessed a $350 initial fee and an $87 monthly fee for each additional month of non-compliance.
View a full list of PSL Program Fees.
What are the benefits of EBMUD PSL Compliance?
There are several benefits to being compliant with the EBMUD PSL Program. In addition to being compliant with the ordinance mandate, a cracked or leaking sewer lateral can cause numerous issues. These issues include:
- Sewer backups
- Raw sewage contamination of your soil and local creeks from leakage
- Excess wastewater to the wastewater treatment plant, resulting in partially-treated wastewater being released into the San Francisco Bay (adding to its pollution)
- Raw sewage overflow caused by water intrusion and root growth
By becoming EBMUD PSL compliant, you are not only complying with the regional mandate, but you are also preventing all of these issues from happening to your own PSL.
Maintain your Line & Get Compliant
There are many reasons for EBMUD PSL compliance, regardless of whether a property “triggers” compliance requirements. Sewer lateral maintenance, whether for compliance or annual maintenance and care, should always be a priority for property owners. Contact the licensed team at Pipe Spy to get started on your sewer lateral maintenance and compliance, today!