Sewer Line Explained

Who is responsible for the sewer line going under the street?

Can my plumber work on the sewer line going under the street?

Most home owner are not aware that a regular plumbing license does not allow for work under the sidewalk which means that not every plumber is certified or qualified to do a repair under the sidewalk, but they could tell you otherwise?

The only plumbing contractors that can do work under the street are bonded sewer contractors. You can find a list of bonded sewer contractors on the Los Angeles Department of Engineering web site which we will provide you. If your plumber is not on that list, he can’t touch the sewer pipes going under the street.

  • The Rooter Drain Expert is a certified approved bonded sewer contractor.

(Bonded Sewer Contractor/Los Angeles Department of Engineering)

To see a list of approved contractors visit

http://eng.lacity.org/

#2 Go to the permits section

#3 Click (S) permits

#4 Click on the approved bonded sewer contractor list

What you should know about the sewer line going under the street.

99.99% of home owners believe that when a sewer problem occurs and is under the city street that this is the city’s problem and not the home owner’s responsibility.

There is a problem with my sewer lateral. Will the City fix it?

Information courtesy of http://www.lasewers.org/private_sewers_septic/roots/rootsfaqx.htm

The City is responsible for the public sewer which is usually located under the street but sometimes located under an alley or in an easement on private property. Maintenance of the sewer lateral, the sewer that carries wastewater from buildings to the public sewer is the responsibility of the property owner as described in the City’s Municipal Code. The sewer lateral consists of upper and lower laterals. The upper lateral extends from the building structure to the property line. The segment from the property line to the street sewer is called lower lateral. Property owners are responsible for proper maintenance and operation of upper and lower laterals.

Why doesn't the City repair my property's sewer lateral under the street (the lower lateral)?

The City’s Municipal Code requires that the construction, maintenance, and repair of sewer laterals be the responsibility of the property owners. This includes that portion of the lateral, sometimes referred to as the lower lateral, located under the street or public right of way. Property owners are granted permission to connect to the public street sewer with the understanding they are responsible for their lateral sewer and its maintenance. The fact that part of the lateral sewer is located under a public street does not mean that it is of public benefit, nor should the maintenance and repair of the lateral be performed by City forces at the expense of the taxpayers.

In almost all cases, the owner of private property holds the underlying fee to the center of the street. The public street is an easement. The property owner has a legal right to construct and maintain a house connection sewer between private property and the public street sewer, subject to permit provisions of the Los Angeles Municipal Code.

Can my plumber work on my sewer line?

If the work is to be done entirely on your property, yes. A plumber with a C-36 Contractors license and a Los Angeles City business license can do the work. An Engineering Class A, Sewer Contractor Class C-42, or Pipeline Class C-34 license and a Los Angeles City Business License with an insurance policy on file are required to do work within the public right of way (e.g. under the sidewalk, under the parkway or under the street). A permit from the City would be necessary to work within the public right of way. To obtain a permit, contact the Bureau of Engineering, Central District A-Permits/Sewer Permits at (213) 482-7030.

For further information:

City of Los Angeles

Department of Public Works

Bureau of Sanitation

Wastewater Engineering Service Division

Lateral Root Notification Program

2714 Media Center Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90065

(323) 342-1566

Email:sewer.root@lacity.org

Other useful contact information:

Sewer Customer Service: (323) 342-6006

For more information on Private Sewers & Septic Systems please visit the following city web page on this link

http://www.lasewers.org/private_sewers_septic/roots/rootsfaqx.htm

Per Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 64.15.1, subsection b, only approved Bonded Sewer Contractors can obtain sewer permits for construction in the public right-of-way.

Sewer Problems - The maintenance of the main line sewer (the sewer in the middle of the street and between the maintenance holes) is the responsibility of the City of Los Angeles. The maintenance of a lateral, service connection or house connection sewer (between the property and the main line sewer) is the responsibility of the abutting property owner. Service connections usually break due to age, clogged by debris, or from tree root penetration. There is a simple way to find out if the sewer problem is in the house connection or main line sewer. If your property is the only property on the block that has a sewer problem, then the problem is in your service connection and you need to call a plumber. If the problem were with the mainline sewer, then all properties connected to the line would have sewer problems at the same time. Also if the main line sewer were clogged, the water would be coming out of the maintenance cover. In case of a main line problem, please call (213) 485-5884 weekdays, from 6:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. and (213) 485-7575 any other time.

Tree roots do not enter sewer lines unless there is a break or bad joint that leaks moisture and provides an opening encouraging root penetration.

If you need to excavate and repair your house connection sewer in the public right-of-way (sidewalk, street or alley) or easement (in the yard), then your Bonded Sewer Contractor must contact the appropriate Engineering District Office for an S-Permit..

Long established City policy, based on the opinion of the City Attorney, places the responsibility for the construction, maintenance, and repair of house connection sewer lines upon the property owner. The City Attorney states, in part: "…that this rule is not altered by the fact (if it be a fact) that roots of trees growing in the street caused clogging of the sewer line. The privilege is granted to the house owner to connect his house with the main publicly owned sewer and the duty to keep clean the privately owned sewer rests on the owner of such house connecting sewer, not upon the City."

The house connection sewers are not of general benefit since they serve and can be used legally to serve only a single lot. The fact that the house connection sewer is in a public street does not mean that it is of public benefit and that the maintenance and repair should not therefore be performed by City forces at the expense of the general public.

In almost all cases, the owner of private property holds the underlying fee to the center of the street. The public street is actually an easement. The property owner there has a legal right to construct and maintain a house connection sewer between his private property and the public street sewer, subject to permit provisions of the Los Angeles Municipal Code.

A Sewer Permit shall be issued to Bonded Sewer Contractors only or to individuals who satisfactorily comply with the Liability Insurance and Deposit Requirement according to Section 64.15.1 of the Los Angeles Municipal code.

To see a list of approved contractors visit

http://eng.lacity.org/

#2 Go to the permits section

#3 Click (S) permits

#4 Click on the approved bonded sewer contractor list