"Who is responsible for sanitary sewer repair?"
The City maintains all public sanitary sewer mains within service boundaries. This includes over 350 miles of pipelines, which are generally located within public streets or easements dedicated for City of Escondido use.
Each home or commercial building has a separate connection to the public sanitary sewer main called a sewer lateral. In accordance with the Escondido Municipal Code 22-165, it is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain and repair their own sewer lateral from the house up to the point of connection with the public sanitary sewer main. This includes both the portion on private property and the portion located beneath the sidewalk and street up to the point where the lateral connects to the public main. The drawing below illustrates the difference between a sewer lateral and a public sanitary sewer main.
"How do I find out where the problem is?"
When a sewer backup or other problem occurs, in most cases it will not be obvious whether the problem area is in the sewer lateral or the public main. If this occurs, call 760-839-4668 24 hours/day.
The City will come out to inspect the public sewer main free of charge. If a problem is found within the public main, it will be repaired as soon as possible. If the public main is found to be clear, the property owner will be informed that the blockage is probably in the sewer lateral. In this case, the property owner is responsible for maintenance or repair.
Caution: When trying to locate a sewer problem, never open manholes or other City of Escondido structures. Due to potential hazards, only City of Escondido personnel are authorized to open and inspect these structures.
"How do I proceed with a sewer lateral problem?"
If the sewer problem is found to be in the sewer lateral, the property owner can hire a contractor to make repairs or, if equipped, can make repairs themselves. Contractors can be researched under listings such as "Plumbing Drain & Sewer Cleaning" or "Sewer Contractors". If you plan to hire a contractor, we recommend getting estimates from more than one company.
Before any work is begun, a City of Escondido repair permit is required (even for repairs on private property). More information on how to get a repair permit is available by calling our Building Division at 760-839-4647. Once you are aware of a sewer lateral problem, it should be repaired as soon as possible. Sewer laterals, which leak or overflow, are a public health risk and can damage the environment.
"How can I avoid damage to other utilities?"
When digging to make sewer repairs, it is very important to know where other utilities are located so that damage can be avoided. Most utility companies belong to a locating service called Underground Service Alert (USA).
By calling USA at 811 or 1-800-227-2600 48 hours before you dig, the utility companies will be notified that you are planning to dig and will come out, free of charge, to mark the location of their utility lines.
811 Logo link to website
"What permits are required for repairs in a street?"
If a sewer lateral repair involves digging in a street or other public right-of-way, an encroachment permit will also be required. Encroachment permits are available from the agency that maintains the street. In most cases, this is the city. For more information, call the City's Field Engineering Office at 760-839-4664.
Sewer Lateral Repair Checklist
- Obtain a Repair Permit; call 760-839-4647
- Call Underground Service Alert 48 hours before you dig at 811 or 1-800-227-2600
- Obtain an Encroachment Permit for repairs outside of the property line by calling 760-839-4664
- Questions? Call our friendly Building Division staff at 760-839-4647
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