Who is responsible for the sewer line going under the street?
Well, this depends on where you live. Some cities will repair the sewer lateral which is the portion of the sewer line from the sidewalk to the center of the street in most cases. In some areas, the homeowner is fully responsible for the entire length of the pipe all the way to the center of the street.
Can my plumber work on the sewer line going under the street? Also depends on the area.
Most homeowners 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.
The only plumbing contractors that can do work under the street are bonded sewer contractors, “A” licensed contractors, and utility companies. For example in Socal, Los Angeles area to be specific you can find a list of bonded sewer contractors on the Los Angeles Department of Engineering website. If your plumber is not on that list, he can’t work on the sewer pipes going under the street.
To see a list of approved contractors visit
#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 homeowners believe that when a sewer problem occurs and is under the city street that this is the city’s problem and not the homeowner’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 the lower lateral. Property owners are responsible for the 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
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
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.