What is a Private Sewer Lateral (PSL)?
The Regional PSL Ordinance defines a private sewer lateral as a pipe or pipes and appurtenances that carry sewage and liquid waste from the structure or structures served to the sewer main. All sewer pipes and appurtenances upstream of the publicly-owned sewer main, regardless of size, number, or length, including private mains and manholes, are considered private sewer laterals and are subject to program requirements, except in Albany and Alameda where a Compliance Certificate is required for the “upper” lateral only (as required by those cities’ respective municipal sewer ordinances). The upper lateral is the portion of the lateral from the building down to the property line or curbside cleanout.
Many East Bay homes were built before 1950, and many have never had their original sewer laterals replaced. Over time, these pipes, which are often made of clay, can crack, become disjointed or be displaced, and can be damaged by tree roots, causing leaks and blockages. When a sewer lateral ages and cracks, it lets rain and ground water into the sewer. This influx of water can overwhelm the pipes and treatment plant that clean wastewater, causing partially treated wastewater to be released into the San Francisco Bay. Fixing damaged PSLs helps protect the Bay.