Sewer Line Ordinance

Due to an ordinance change, Santa Cruz is seeing a focus on the longevity of the sewer main, and the sanitary pipelines. There are updates made each year to the Santa Cruz public sewer main. Different sections are cleaned or replaced, giving residents in the area peace of mind about the stability and safety of the sewer system.

This means that a portion of responsibility is required of homeowners for things to operate smoothly. Putting off a repair for your private sewer service lateral could cost you big money in fines. The updates to the ordinance will likely affect the way you maintain your private sewer line. That’s where the experts at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Santa Cruz can help you. With our highly skilled team, your private sewer service lateral will stay up to code and pass any necessary inspection.

What Is the Private Sewer Service Lateral?

Also called the private lateral, the private sewer service lateral is the pipe that goes from a home or building’s own plumbing system and meets the public sewer main. The owner of the building or home is also even responsible for the portion of pipe past the property line. Due to the constant upgrades to the Santa Cruz public sewer system, owners of homes and buildings are responsible for a portion of the upkeep.

Sewer System Ordinance

On August 1st, 2018, changes to an ordinance went into effect regarding the public sewer main. These changes featured 3 updates:

  1. A sewer spill is the responsibility of the property owner and should be immediately stopped. Any repairs that aren’t made in a timely manner will result in a fine.
  2. The private lateral must be inspected before the property can be sold. If repairs are required, they must be done before the sale, and a new inspection must be completed. Any property that has already passed an inspection, or had new private laterals installed is exempt.
  3. An inspection is required every 10 years for private sanitary sewer collection systems. This means that for apartment complexes, buildings, homeowners associations, and businesses, pipelines have to be cleaned every 2 to 5 years. For privately owned pump stations, inspections are required every 1 to 5 years.

Before the sale of a property, the county will perform an inspection to make sure that any repairs that have been made are satisfactory. In the City of Santa Cruz, pre-existing street traps must be removed, and a clean-out needs to be positioned for an inspection to be passed.

Who Is Affected?

These updates will most affect the real estate transactions. Because most of the updated rules apply specifically to the sale of private property, that will be who experiences the most of these changes. The city’s goal was to protect buyers in the market from sellers who may have been knowingly hiding certain important information from buyers. Without the necessity of these disclosures, costly repairs could ramp up quickly for either party, but the buyer was often left paying the price without informed consent.

What Happens If You Fail an Inspection?

If you fail the inspection, you are required to put the necessary repairs in to bring the inspected portion up to the city’s standards. When selling the property, it is possible to fill out a form, the Transfer of Responsibility to Repair form. When this is filled out with the buyer, they will have 90 days after the date of sale to fulfill the necessary repairs. It’s entirely likely that a buyer will want to alter the selling price in return for the responsibility being transferred to the buyer.

Those who fail to address a spill immediately may be responsible for large fines and penalties from the city. In addition to this, the health and safety of the sewer pipelines can also be at stake. Inspections and repairs made in the required timely manner will not be subjected to these fines and penalties.

How Can Mr. Rooter of Santa Cruz Help?

These rules might sound complicated, but the experts at Mr. Rooter can help you with any spills or repairs that your private lateral may need. If you’re looking to sell your home, and are concerned about it passing inspection, our skilled team of professionals can complete the inspection, perform the necessary repairs, and help you get your home ready for sale.


Founded in 1970, Mr. Rooter has been the industry standard in plumbing services for decades. With a focus on quality and customer service, there’s no better company to address the needs of the people of Santa Cruz. We pride ourselves on pricing that is both upfront and flat-rate, and our ability to provide you with the most convenient appointment times to fit your busy schedule. For the best in plumbing, contact us today, and we can help you with those ordinance changes.

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