The ECUA private sewer lateral program is one of many ongoing efforts to protect our community’s health and the environment. Private sewer laterals that are not ECUA code-compliant due to leaks can be a major cause of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), and neighborhood backups, and can cause damage to the ECUA sewer system and private property. The purpose of the private sewer lateral program is to raise property owners’ awareness regarding existing private sewer lateral defects of which they may be unaware, so that they may be repaired.
ECUA has been working to identify and address deficiencies in the public sewer mains within our collection system since its inception in the 1980s and will continue to do so. Meanwhile, it is important to also tackle issues that might be present in private laterals. As such, ECUA has begun private sewer lateral inspections using closed caption television (CCTV) camera equipment and smoke testing throughout the ECUA sewer system to identify private sewer laterals that have defects and are not code-compliant. As these inspections are completed, ECUA provides a courtesy notice of lateral defects and requires property owners to make private sewer lateral repairs within six months.
A sewer lateral is a pipe that connects a residential home or commercial property’s wastewater plumbing to ECUA’s gravity sanitary sewer collection system. The private side of the sewer lateral is the portion that is on private property. Per the ECUA code, it is the individual property owner’s responsibility to maintain and repair the sewer lateral from their home to the mainline.
The common types of sewer lateral defects include holes and/or cracks in the pipe, pipe deformation, offset joints, blockages, and root intrusion. Below are sample images of the varying defects found on private sewer laterals in our area through smoke testing and CCTV inspection.
ECUA uses different investigative techniques to determine if a private sewer lateral has a defect that needs repair. One investigative technique, smoke testing, forces smoke into the sanitary sewer system at the sewer manhole and identifies where smoke exits the system. Smoke exiting the lateral indicates there is a defect. Another investigative technique, CCTV inspection, uses CCTV camera equipment launched in the private sewer lateral from the gravity sewer mainline. This camera equipment records a video of the lateral inspection, which can show existing lateral defects.
ECUA recommends having a plumbing professional inspect your private sewer lateral using CCTV camera equipment to determine if there are any defects present. Your plumber will be able to identify defects and make recommendations for repairing or replacing your private sewer lateral.
ECUA understands that repairs to your private sewer lateral may be costly and cause a financial hardship. ECUA recommends that customers work with their financial provider of choice to explore available financing options. Additional assistance may be available through the Escambia County Neighborhood & Human Services Department, which can be reached at 850-595-0022. This assistance is subject to availability of funds and homeowner applicant’s income eligibility.
Within the City of Pensacola, income-eligible owner-occupants may qualify for assistance under City rehabilitation programs. For more information contact the City of Pensacola Housing Department, which can be reached at 850-858-0306.
Alternatively, ECUA offers a financing option that can be repaid in monthly installments (including interest on the unpaid balance). If you would like more information regarding this financial assistance program, please contact ECUA Customer Service at 850-476-0480.
ECUA provides courtesy notifications to property owners whose properties have been identified to have private sewer lateral defects. The courtesy notification gives the property owner 6 months to make repairs to the private sewer lateral. Failure to make repairs within that time results in a $50 monthly service surcharge until the repairs are made and verified. After 6 months of service surcharges, ECUA services may be terminated to the property (water meter is pulled, capping of the sewer lateral, and if provided, sanitation service will be discontinued).
It is important that private sewer laterals with defects be repaired promptly. A lateral that is free of defects prevents SSOs and damage to ECUA’s sanitary sewer system, and also prevents sewer back-ups resulting damage within the private property.