Sanitary Sewer Lateral Program


Since the early 1980s, Bay Area communities served by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) wastewater services area have been working together to reduce wet weather sanitary sewer overflows to community streets, local creeks and waterways, and San Francisco Bay. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to repair and replace old, leaky pipes, and to provide additional conveyance and treatment facilities to handle wet weather flows. In Emeryville alone, the city has spent about $10 million to replace 70% of its sewer mains. These projects have reduced wet weather flows by 30% and eliminated 8 locations that routinely had overflows. Recent changes in State and Federal regulations require further reductions in wet weather flows. In response to these regulations, the City of Emeryville and EBMUD have adopted Private Sewer Lateral Ordinances that require property owners to repair or replace old, leaky private sewer laterals that connect buildings to the community sewer.


Private Sewer Lateral Ordinances were adopted by the City of Emeryville and EBMUD in the 2011. The City of Emeryville Waste Water Collection Ordinace addresses the building sewer standards, connections to the city’s sewer mains, sewer use regulations, charges and fees, and enforcement. The EBMUD ordinance includes regulating upper sewer laterals (Title VIII). Although the 2 ordinances differ, the City of Emeryville ordinance is stricter and by complying with it, the property owner will also be in compliance with the EBMUD ordinance. It should be noted that while the City of Emeryville inspects all construction within the city limits, EBMUD issues a “Compliance Certificate” after a “Verification Test” has been successfully performed on the pipes in question.

Private Sewer Laterals

Typical Sewer Connection A private sewer lateral is the pipe that transports wastewater from private property to the city’s sewer mains. In Emeryville, private sewer laterals represent 50% of the sewer system.
  • The maintenance and repair of the entire private sewer lateral is the responsibility of the property owner.
  • Wet weather flow during rainfall events enters the sewer system through old, cracked pipes and can exceed the capacity of community sewers and the EBMUD wastewater treatment plant.
  • Properties meeting certain conditions are required to obtain a Compliance Certificate as proof that their private sewer lateral has passed a Verification Test and does not leak.
Caution: Before any sewer work is performed on your sewer, please call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to determine if a small diameter gas pipeline crosses through your sewer lateral.

Who Needs to Fix Their Lateral?

Property owners are required to perform a successful Verification Test on their private sewer laterals when they meet any of the following conditions:
  • Sale of Property
  • Cumulative construction or remodeling on the property totaling over $100,000 within 3 years
  • Change in size of the water meter
However, there are special conditions that apply to individually owned units in a multi-unit structure, such as condominiums or other common-interest development, and to commercial properties with sewer laterals totaling more than 1,000 ft in length.
Note: in most cases, a private sewer lateral will not pass the Verification Test unless some repair or replacement is performed.

When Do I Need to Obtain a City of Emeryville Sewer Lateral Permit?

A sewer lateral permit is required if any repair, replacement, or abandonment work is to be performed on the private sewer lateral, and is also required before performing a Verification Test. A copy of the City of Emeryville Sewer Lateral Permit Application may be viewed online (Sewer Lateral Permit) and printed, however, the applicant must apply for the permit in person at the City of Emeryville City Hall, Building Department, 1333 Park Street, Emeryville. (City of Emeryville Building Department)

What Is the Cost to Obtain a City of Emeryville Sewer Lateral Permit?

City of Emeryville Sewer Lateral Permit Fees:
  • Administrative Fee, per parcel $190
    • Plus for each new, repaired, preplaced or abandoned lateral $592
    • Plus Verification Test (only) which must be witnessed by City of Emeryville Inspector $122
  • Traffic Signal or Street Light Conduit Utility Locate, as needed $295
    • Engineering, if needed, per hour $122
      • Overtime, per hour $183
  • Sewer Lateral Performance Security $1000
  • Plan Check for New Lateral $192
  • New Sewer Connection Fee
    • Residential, per unit $1321
    • All other users, per plumbing trap $264
(Note: credit given for removed traps when previous use is abandoned for less than 1 year.)

In addition, there is a EBMUD Compliance Certificate fee.

Note: The construction of a lateral from an individual building is typically $3,000-5,000; your licensed contractor will give you a price quote based on the specific field conditions of the construction site.

City of Emeryville Sewer Lateral Inspection

The sewer lateral permit fee includes the cost of inspection of the work by a City Inspector. The inspection can be scheduled by calling 510-455-7286 on the morning the inspection is desired. The 5 steps in the inspection process are:
  • First Call: Prior to any excavating in the public right-of-way, the City Inspector confirms the layout of all required saw cutting and the need for any pot-holing of utilities.
  • Second Call: The City Inspector confirms the use of approved pipe materials and observes the initial stages of the pipe installation procedure.
  • Third Call: Once the pipe is installed, the City Inspector checks the slope of pipe (if it is a new installation), confirms the use and proper installation of pipe bedding material, and confirms the correct installation of the two-way cleanout. NOTE: This must be done prior to the witnessing of the Verification Test. After a satisfactory Verification Test, City Inspector confirms the sewer lateral connection to the city sewer main and to the building, and authorizes the backfill of the trenches and pits.
  • Fourth Call: Prior to street and sidewalk restoration, the City Inspector witnesses that the backfill of trenches or pits are to City Standards including “T-cut” of asphalt concrete.
  • Fifth Call: City Inspector inspects the finish paving and sidewalk restoration and then provides Final sign-off on the Sewer Lateral Permit assuming the work is completed satisfactorily.

Verification Test

In order to obtain a Compliance Certificate, a Verification Test must be witnessed by EBMUD and the City of Emeryville Inspector. EBMUD has an on-line tool ( EBMUD ) to schedule a Verification Test. The Verification Test cannot be performed until after the City Inspector has completed the THIRD call listed above. When the lateral passes the required inspections, the Compliance Certificate will be available online from EBMUD ( EBMUD).

Construction Considerations

All private sewer lateral construction must be performed by a contractor appropriately licensed by the State of California. A contractor must hold either an “A” or “C42” contractor license to work in the public right-of-way. A contractor with a C36 license may work on private property only. 
New lateral pipes installed must comply with the City of Emeryville construction standards. The City of Emeryville limits acceptable sewer lateral pipe material to:
  • Vitrified clay pipe (VCP),
  • High density polyethylene SDR-17 pipe (HDPE),
  • Ductile iron pipe (DIP),
  • Epoxy Resin Cured-in-Place Pipe liner (CIPP)
The city requires the installation of a two-way, cast-iron cleanout approximately 2 feet from the curb line toward the property and a second two-way, cast-iron cleanout approximately 2 feet from the building. For zero-lot-line properties, a single two-way, cast-iron cleanout approximately 2 feet from the building is acceptable. All connections to the existing building plumbing and city sewer mains must be with stainless steel banded, water-tight, rubber couplings.

Roof leaders, area drains, and sump pumps are not permitted to be connected to the sanitary sewer system. If they exist, they must be disconnected from the private sewer lateral prior to inspection by the City of Emeryville.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

How Do I Determine What Repairs to my Lateral are Needed?
Your contractor should be able to identify the repairs needed to pass the Verification Test. Very old pipes with a history of maintenance problems will likely need to be completely replaced or lined. Newer pipes may only require spot repairs. If the city has replaced the lower lateral from the cleanout in the sidewalk to the city sewer main as part of a recent rehabilitation project, then only the upper lateral from the property line to the building plumbing may need to be fixed.

The contractor may choose to perform a closed circuit television inspection (CCTV) of the pipe prior to fixing it. CCTV inspection is a tool the contractor can use to define the requirements of the repair project. The CCTV inspection will identify any obvious defects such as open or offset joints, cracks, and roots. However, CCTV inspection will not necessarily identify leaky joints absent other obvious defects.

What is a Verification Test?
A Verification Test is an air or water pressure test of the sewer lateral that indicates the pipe is water tight and will not allow rain water or groundwater to enter it. The specifications for conducting a Verification Test are included in EBMUD’s Contractor Guidelines (Contractor Guidelines).

What is an Exemption?
An exemption from the requirement of passing a Verification Test may be issued by EBMUD for any sewer lateral that has been fully replaced in the past 10 years. The property owner or owner’s representative must present EBMUD with a signed, final building permit indicating the date when the replacement was completed. An “Exemption Certificate” is good for 10 years from this date.

An exemption from the requirement of passing a Verification Test may also be issued by the City for work on the lower lateral (the portion from the property line to the city main) if the city has replaced the lower lateral within the past 10 years as part of a city sewer rehabilitation project. This exemption does not relieve the property owner of the requirement of passing a Verification Test on the upper lateral if one of the triggers has been met.

How Long is the Compliance Certificate Good For?
A Compliance Certificate is good for 7 years if an existing sewer lateral is repaired and passes the Verification Test, or if it passes a Verification Test without any repair work performed. It is good for 20 years if the entire lateral has been replaced or lined and passes the Verification Test.

Can I Get a Compliance Certificate Without Repairing or Replacing the Lateral?
There are two circumstances when a private sewer lateral does not need to be repaired or replaced to get a Compliance Certificate:
  • If the lateral qualifies for an exemption. In this case, the owner must provide documentation to EBMUD to obtain an Exemption Certificate.
  • If the sewer lateral passes the Verification Test without requiring any repairs.

Individually-Owned Units in a Multi-Unit Structure (HOA)

What Properties are Included in This Category?
Individually-owned units within a multi-unit residential condominium, commercial condominium, or other common interest development that is served by a single or shared private sewer lateral are in this category. This includes properties with ground floor retail and upper floor dwellings. It also includes any development originally planned as a condominium, but with all unit ownership still held by an individual or development corporation. For the purposes of simplicity, this type of development, its owner(s), and/or property manager are referred to as a Homeowners’ Association or “HOA.” An HOA's covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) will clearly outline ownership and responsibilities for the maintenance and repairs of the association's sewer laterals.

What Does an HOA Need to Do That is Different Than a Singly-Owned Parcel?
By July 12, 2021, all HOAs will be required to successfully pass a Verification Test on their private sanitary sewer laterals and obtain a Compliance Certificate from EBMUD. By January 1, 2017, the HOA must submit a Reserve Study to the City of Emeryville Director of Public Works, as required by California Civil Code Section 5550. This Reserve Study must clearly identify the need and the funding for the extent of work to be performed on the private sewer laterals in order to pass the Verification Test.

HOAs must complete the following items by July 12, 2021:

  • Perform all required inspections of all building sewer lateral(s),
  • Obtain all required sewer lateral permits,
  • Perform all required construction,
  • Schedule inspections with the City and EBMUD,
  • Perform and pass a verification test witnessed by the City and EBMUD for each building sewer lateral serving the property,
  • Abandon any inactive building sewer lateral(s),
  • Obtain a compliance certificate from EBMUD as specified in the EBMUD Regional PSL Ordinance, and
  • Obtain a final inspection from the City.
Additional Information:
City of Emeryville's Waste Water Collection Ordinance (15-002, effective March 19, 2015)
EBMUD Guidelines for HOAs

If the private sewer system in question is less than 10 years old, the HOA should consider performing a Verification Test as soon as possible. If the system passes this test, EBMUD will issue a Compliance Certificate and no repairs or replacement will be required at this time.

When is Re-Certification Required?
After the property has been issued a Compliance Certificate from EBMUD, the private sewer laterals do not need to be re-certified for another 20 years.

Commercial Properties with >1000 ft of Private Sewers

What Properties are Included in this Category?
Any property that has a private sewer system totaling more than 1,000 feet in length is included in this category. Such properties may include a commercial planned unit development, a group of individual contiguous commercial properties that share a private sewer lateral system, or a single commercial property with laterals totaling more than 1,000 ft.

What Are the “Triggers” for Requiring Private Sewer Lateral Work to be Undertaken in the Case Where There is More Than 1,000 Feet of Private Sewer Laterals?
The triggers for private sewer lateral work to be undertaken include:
  • Sale of the property
  • A remodeling project in excess of $100,000
  • Prior to June 30, 2016, if neither of the above triggers is met
What is Required of this Type of Property?
If one of the “triggers” is met, the property owner(s) or responsible parties must submit a Corrective Action Work Plan to the City of Emeryville Director of Public Works. This Work Plan must clearly define the extent of work to be performed on the private sewer laterals in order to pass the Verification Test (see FAQ below for required content of a Corrective Action Work Plan). This Corrective Action Work Plan must also include the estimated cost for all required work.

Note: The Corrective Action Work Plan must also be approved EBMUD.

If the private sewer lateral system in question is less than 10 years old, the property owner should consider performing a verification test as soon as possible. If the system passes this test, EBMUD will issue a Compliance Certificate and no repairs or replacement will be required at this time.

How Much Time Does a Commercial Property Owner Have to Prepare the Corrective Action Work Plan?
If one of the triggers is met, the commercial property owner or responsible parties will have 12 months to prepare the Corrective Action Work Plan. The Director of Public Works will notify the property owner in writing of the date by which the Corrective Action Work Plan must be completed.

How Soon Must the Work Described in the Corrective Action Work Plan Be Completed?
The length of time to complete the anticipated corrective action will depend on the extent of the required work as approved by the Director of Public Works and EBMUD.

When is Re-Certification Required?

After the property has been issued a Compliance Certificate from EBMUD, the private sewer laterals do not need to be re-certified for another 20 years.

What Are the Requirements for the Corrective Action Work Plan?

The Corrective Action Work Plan must include the following elements:
  • Brief description of properties including Assessor’s Parcel Numbers, addresses, ownership, and a list of tenants and/or residents
  • Layout of Private Sewer Lateral System including a site map, pipe lengths, diameters, material, and age (if known)
  • Documentation of any service or repair history (if available)
  • Summary of logs from any CCTV inspection of the laterals
  • Summary of logs from smoke testing of the sewer system (as required by the city)
  • Conceptual Plan for rehabilitation/repair of system (as needed):
  • Reach-by-reach methodology (remove and replace, pipe bursting, or cured-in-place pipe liner)
  • Manhole rehabilitation methodology
  • Cost estimate for construction
  • Timeline for implementing construction and performing Verification Test
  • Any constraints due to tenant operations
  • Any other pertinent information that would impact the approval of the plan or the execution of the rehabilitation/repair
The City of Emeryville Director of Public Works and EBMUD are available to discuss elements of the Corrective Action Work Plan, and reserve the right to approve it with conditions.

For More Information

City of Emeryville

General Information about the Sewer Lateral Program
Sewer Lateral Program

City of Emeryville Municipal Code, Chapter 8, Wastewater Collection System

COE Municipal Code, Chapter 8 Wastewater

City of Emeryville Sewer Lateral Permit

(NOTE: The permit must be obtained in person from the Emeryville Building Department)
Sewer Lateral Permit

City of Emeryville Building Department

City of Emeryville Building Department


Private Sewer Lateral Ordinance

View the ordinance online.

Private Sewer Lateral Web Page 

Guidelines for Contractors including Verification Testing Procedures

Contractor Guidelines