Sewer Guide

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The East Palo Alto Sanitary District knows that repair or replacement of your private sewer lateral can be a large investment that deserves careful consideration. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you through the process and answer any questions you may have.

Please don’t hesitate to call us at 650-325-9021 and we’ll be happy to assist you with any questions.


Step 1 - Call Us:Call Us for Sewer Emergency or Sewer Related Problems.

Step 2- Courtesy Cleaning Service: Learn About Our Courtesy Cleaning Service.

Step 3 – Repair or Replacement:Learn About Choosing Repair or Replacement.

Step 4 – Hiring a Licensed Contractor: Learn About Hiring a Licensed Contractor.

Step 5- Permit Fees: Learn about Permit Fees.

Step 6 – The Inspection Process: Learn The Inspection Process.

Step 7 - Protect Your Sewer Lateral and Property Line Cleanout:Learn How To Protect Your Pipe and Property Line Cleanout.

Step 1: Call Us:

If you have a sewer emergency or sewer related problem, please Call Us, day or night at (650) 325-9021. Our reporting line is open 24/7. If it is determined that the public sewer mainline is blocked, only the District has the authority to clear the system. If the public sewer mainline is clear, the District’s representative may advise the property owner to contact a plumbing contractor.

Who’s Responsible for the Sewer Line Outside My House?

The property owner is responsible for any repair, replacement and/or clearing of a blockage of the entire sewer line from the house or commercial structure all the way out to the District’s mainline in the street or rear easement.

lateral detail

Step 2: Courtesy Cleaning Service: 

The District will attempt to clear the private sewer lateral from a conforming cleanout (typically located at the property line or back of sidewalk) to the main line sewer upon a request to do so. If a property does not have a conforming cleanout at the property line, a cleanout should be installed pursuant to the District’s Standard Requirements for Sewer Connection. If your parcel does not have a conforming cleanout it is recommended that you install one (a District permit is required).


Step 3: Repair or Replacement: 

If the District or a licensed plumbing contractor determines that your pipe is damaged and needs repair or replacement, video inspection of the private sewer lateral is one of the best tools used to determine the integrity of the sewer lateral. Licensed sewer contractors use Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras to record and view the sewer lateral.



Step 4: Hiring a Licensed Contractor:

The District does not recommend or endorse any sewer contractor. We strongly recommend that property owners receive multiple quotes, as they may vary greatly. Knowing your contractor is important, check with your local Better Business Bureau or Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board to find out more on contractor’s business practices. Word of mouth references are also a good source of information (ask your friends and neighbors).

Step 5: Permits:  

If the District or a licensed contractor determines work should be done, a permit must be obtained from the District's Office between 8:00am - 5:00pm, Monday - Friday. The total fee for permit and inspection is $125.00 (payable by cash or check). This includes inspection by the District to ensure conformance with the District's Standard Requirements for Sewer Connection.

To assist you in obtaining your sewer permits, you can complete and print the Application & Permit for Sewer Connection  to bring with you to the District office. You may also submit your application and payment online.

Other Permits:

If a repair involves digging in a street or public right-of-way, an encroachment permit will also be required. Encroachment permits are available from the local jurisdiction that maintains the street such as City of East Palo Alto, City of Menlo Park, or County of San Mateo,

Step 6: The Inspection Process: 

The District’s Constructor Inspector will work with the property owner or their sewer contractor to inspect various phases of work to ensure compliance with the District’s Standard Requirements for Sewer Connection.

After work has been completed please contact the District Office (650) 325-9021 to schedule an Inspection.

Step 7 - Protect Your Sewer Lateral and Property Line Cleanout:

cleanout1DO - check your property line clean out periodically for signs of standing water and debris. Keep it accessible and visible at all times, clear of dirt, bushes and debris of any type.


cleanout 2 DO NOT - pour Fats, Oils or Grease (FOG) down the sewer line, these waste products build up in your pipes and eventually restrict and/or block flow causing backups into your home.


cleanout 3DO NOT - plant trees near your sewer line. Tree roots invade sewer lines and can cause blockages and break sewer lines. When planting new trees and bushes keep in mind where your private sewer lateral is located and stay back as far as possible, a minimum of 10 feet.


cleanout 4DO NOT - dispose of  wipes and other hygiene products into the sewer system. These items can cause costly damage to homes, pipes, and the District’s pump stations.


To learn more about the District’s helpful tips to assist you in maintaining your sewer lateral click here.


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