A private sewer lateral (PSL) is the pipe that carries waste from the plumbing in a home or business to the sanitary sewer main, usually located in the street. It consists of two sections: an upper lateral, which connects the building to the curbside cleanout, and a lower lateral, which connects the curbside cleanout to the sewer main. In Albany, property owners are responsible for maintaining the upper lateral, but exceptions apply to owners of condominiums, or Homeowner’s Associations (HOAs). Please refer to the Regional PSL Guidelines for Condominiums and Other Common Interest Developments.
A poorly maintained private sewer lateral has an increased chance of leak or blockage in the pipe, which can cause raw sewage to back up into the building. When a sewer lateral ages and cracks, it lets rain and ground water into the sewer. This influx of water can overwhelm the treatment plants that clean wastewater, causing partially treated wastewater to be released into the San Francisco Bay. Fixing damaged PSLs helps protect the Bay.
Albany PSL Program
Effective January 1, 2015, Albany is part of the Regional Private Sewer Lateral Program (www.eastbaypsl.com) managed by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). You may voluntarily have your PSL certified at any time you feel it necessary (for example, if you are experiencing frequent sewer backups). However, due to the requirements of the Regional PSL Program and Albany’s Municipal Code (Section 15.1-22), upper sewer laterals must be certified if any of the following conditions apply:
• ownership/title of a property is transferred
• building or remodeling in excess of $100,000
• changing the size of your water meter.
Exemption: Your PSL is eligible for an exemption if it was fully replaced before the program effective date (January 1, 2015), the signed-off permit is not expired, and the permitting agency verifies the replacement. Follow EBMUD’s Guidelines for Exemption Certificate to determine if your property is eligible for an exemption.
Sewer Lateral Pipe Size Policy: According to the City’s Upper Sanitary Sewer Lateral Compliance Policy, sewer laterals serving multi-unit residential structures with three or more units and all commercial buildings shall be rehabilitated with six (6) inch minimum pipe.
Steps to get PSL Compliance Certificate:
In order to obtain a Compliance Certificate for your property, you must demonstrate that all of the PSLs located on the property are without leaks and have proper connections. For information on how to get PSL Compliance Certificate, please refer to www.eastbaypsl.com. Please obtain a permit with the City of Albany for sewer repair or replacement work. Inspections need to be scheduled with both the City and EBMUD for repair or replacement work. In general, the following steps should be taken:
• Hire a licensed contractor to inspect your PSL.
• If it is necessary to repair or replace the PSL, obtain City of Albany permit and schedule inspections with EBMUD and the City.
• Have your PSL repaired or replaced.
• Schedule inspections with EBMUD and the City. To schedule a city inspection, please call 510-528-5760. Your contractor will set-up and administer the verification test per EBMUD Contractor Guidelines. An EBMUD inspector will witness the test and confirm that your PSL is free of leaks.
• If your lateral does not pass the verification test, additional work will be required on your PSL. The verification test must be rescheduled with EBMUD.
• If your lateral is free of leaks, a Compliance Certificate will be issued to you by EBMUD.
• Complete sidewalk restoration and other requirements per the City permit.
• Schedule a Final Inspection with the City.
Effective Periods for Compliance Certificate:
• Passed verification test without repair or replacement- 7 years
• Passed verification test with complete lateral replacement- 20 years