Sewer Lateral Ordinances

Project At a Glance

Jurisdictions that have sewer lateral ordinances.

Aging, overburdened sewer systems constitute one of the nation’s most pressing infrastructure challenges, and the Bay Area is no exception. Sewers need continuous upkeep to address damages, aging components need upgrades, and treatment capacity needs to be increased to meet growing water use and disposal needs.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, most sewer systems are old and in need of improvements. Defects in sewer lateral pipes cause sewage to escape the system and stormwater to enter it. Leaks can occur due to broken or blocked pipes, causing sewage to escape into the local environment at any number of points in the system. Excessive stormwater entering the sewer system due to broken or cracked pipes overwhelms treatment plants, which are sometimes forced to discharge sewage that has not received full treatment procedures. 

One of the most effective ways to address these systemic problems is to ensure proper inspection and maintenance programs are in place to keep pace with aging infrastructure. SFEP worked with Kelly Miller from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey to review the implications of faulty sewer laterals, take inventory of sewer lateral ordinances in the Bay Area, develop a prioritized list of jurisdictions that should consider implementing strong sewer lateral ordinances, and to describe potential funding sources available to jurisdictions and private landowners to fund sewer lateral repair. 

For more information, to provide feedback, or to obtain research documents, please contact James Muller.

This project advances the following Estuary Blueprint goals and actions

Water Quality and Quantity

Action 26