Frequently Asked Questions
- How does the East Bay Regional Private Sewer Lateral Program protect San Francisco Bay?
- What are the problems associated with private sewer laterals?
- Where does this private sewer lateral program apply?
- When did the program go into effect? What if I started the purchase before the effective date?
- Who is responsible for the PSL and how does the program work?
- Where can I go for more information?
- Who does the East Bay Regional Private Sewer Lateral Program apply to?
- Do these requirements apply to commercial, industrial and residential properties?
- Which requirements apply to Tenants in Common (TICs) or those who own property together with others?
- Can I get a Compliance Certificate if I haven't hit any of the triggers?
- Are some property title transfers not subject to the Regional PSL Ordinance?
- Foreclosures: Who is responsible for compliance with the Regional PSL Ordinance ?
- Commercial / Industrial / Institutional Properties
- What if I own or manage a property with a large private sewer system like a campus facility or business park?
- What are the requirements for selling a large apartment building?
- Homeowner Associations / Condominiums / Planned Unit Developments
- Do these requirements apply to HOAs and condominiums?
- I'm selling my condominium/townhouse. What do I need to do?
- What if I’m buying a condo and need to know if the HOA has provided the Statement of Responsibility and certified the PSL as leak-free?
- What happens if the HOA has not provided the required documentation to EBMUD?
- What enforcement actions are in place if an HOA does not comply?
- What if my HOA votes to change the allocation of responsibility for sewer maintenance?
- Exemption Certificates
- Compliance Certificates
- The PSL on my property has passed the pressure test and a Compliance Certificate has been issued. How long is the Compliance Certificate good for?
- What are the triggers that require a Compliance Certificate?
- How will you know if I haven't gotten a Compliance Certificate?
- Hiring a Contractor / Doing the Work
- What kind of contractor do I need for this kind of work?
- Should I have a plumber inspect the sewer lateral first or can I go straight to the verification test?
- Do I need to obtain a city permit for the work?
- How do I find a licensed plumbing contractor?
- What should I consider when reviewing a contractor’s estimate?
- How do I decide if I need to repair or fully replace my sewer lateral?
- Could I be subject to enforcement action by the City if my lateral is defective/not maintained?
- How do I schedule an inspection?
- Why does EBMUD require an air or water verification test?
- What happens at the inspection?
- Can I set up the verification test myself or do I need to hire a plumber to do it?
- When should my contractor first schedule the verification test?
- Time Extension Certificate Requests
- I can't get the sewer lateral replaced before the close of escrow; what options do I have?
- I will replace the sewer lateral the day after I purchase the house; do I still need to pay the deposit?
- How long will it take to get my $4,500 deposit back?
- What if I don't submit the $4,500 deposit or mail back the Time Extension Certificate?
- Stege Sanitary District / El Cerrito
- I have a previous Compliance Certificate from Stege Sanitary District. Is it still valid?
- I live on a street with a paving moratorium in El Cerrito. What do I do?
- What if I don't have online access?
- What information about my property will be publicly available?
- When I go to make a payment, the screen goes blank. What should I do?
- Making Payments
How does the East Bay Regional Private Sewer Lateral Program protect San Francisco Bay?
By inspecting, testing, and repairing old cracked sewer pipes, we ensure that during storms rainwater does not enter sanitary sewer lines. Too much rainwater can overwhelm the sanitary sewer system and the treatment plant, allowing partially treated wastewater to be released into the Bay.
What are the problems associated with private sewer laterals?
Most East Bay homes were built before 1950, and many have never had their original PSLs replaced. Over time, these pipelines (generally made of clay) can crack, become disjointed or displaced, and can be subjected to intrusion by tree roots, causing leaks and blockages. Rainwater and groundwater can enter the sanitary sewer system through these sewer lateral defects, potentially overloading the treatment system.
Where does this private sewer lateral program apply?
These requirements will affect properties in the EBMUD wastewater service area in Alameda, Albany, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont, El Cerrito, Kensington, and the Richmond Annex. Berkeley manages its own private sewer lateral program. Check with the City of Berkeley for their specific PSL program requirements.
When did the program go into effect? What if I started the purchase before the effective date?
The Regional PSL program is effective for escrows, construction or remodeling permits, or water service applications opened on or after the following dates:
|Alameda||January 1, 2015|
|Albany||January 1, 2015|
|Emeryville and Piedmont||August 22, 2011|
|Stege Sanitary District||October 17, 2011|
|(serving El Cerrito, Kensington, and Richmond Annex)|
|Oakland||January 16, 2012|
Who is responsible for the PSL and how does the program work?
The property owner is responsible for the entire PSL from their home to the public sewer main (upper and lower lateral), with the exception of Alameda and Albany where the responsibility ends at the property line or curbside cleanout (i.e. upper lateral only). A property owner hires a contractor to assess the lateral condition (typically a video survey of the line), obtain permits from the city, perform required work, and set up the air or water pressure verification test. Before completing the job, the contractor or property owner uses the online scheduling tool, enters either the address or parcel number and schedules an inspection for EBMUD to witness an air or water pressure verification test of the PSL. When the lateral passes the test, a Compliance Certificate is issued. In a property sale transaction, it is up to the buyer and seller to negotiate responsibility for obtaining the Compliance Certificate.
Where can I go for more information?
For more information regarding the Regional PSL Program call (866) 403-2683 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional contact information, please click here.
Who does the East Bay Regional Private Sewer Lateral Program apply to?
All residential, commercial, and industrial properties, including bank-owned properties and short sales.
Do these requirements apply to commercial, industrial and residential properties?
Yes. If you have a business or home in Alameda, Albany, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont, El Cerrito, Kensington or the Richmond Annex, the Regional PSL Ordinance applies to your property.
Which requirements apply to Tenants in Common (TICs) or those who own property together with others?
A single property may have multiple owners at the same time. A person may own property together with other persons through any of several legal arrangements — for example, as tenants in common, as joint tenants, or through a community property share. The Regional PSL Ordinance refers to those who own property in such a manner as “cotenants.” Cotenants must meet the same requirements that apply to property owners who own a parcel solely or exclusively. Each cotenant is fully responsible for the other cotenants’ compliance with Regional PSL Program requirements. For example, if one cotenant within a tenancy in common must obtain a Compliance Certificate because he or she sells or remodels his or her portion of the property, then every owner within the tenancy in common will be held responsible for obtaining the Compliance Certificate. Cotenants may allocate this responsibility and cost among themselves by mutual agreement. Please note that a tenancy in common is not a common interest development, and therefore the special requirements that apply to Common Interest Developments do not apply to cotenants unless the cotenants’ property is located within a Common Interest Development.
Can I get a Compliance Certificate if I haven't hit any of the triggers?
Yes. If your property falls within the green shaded area on the map on the home page, simply follow the steps outlined for voluntarily receiving a Compliance Certificate (steps V1-V5). By repairing your sewer lateral you will protect your property and be part of helping reduce untreated and partially treated wastewater from flowing into the Bay.
Are some property title transfers not subject to the Regional PSL Ordinance?
Yes, the following transfers are not subject to the Regional PSL Ordinance requirements.
- by a fiduciary administering a decedent's estate or trust
- between existing co-owners
- by a trustor to fund or defund a living trust
- by an executor to fund a testamentary trust
- to a spouse or registered domestic partner
- to a person who is related by blood to one or more of the transferrors (in a Lineal Consanguinity Relationship)
- title transfers as a result of divorce or legal separation
- to a financial institution resulting from a foreclosure or similar process
- certain transfers between a business entity and an individual or corporation (e.g. an LLC).
Foreclosures: Who is responsible for compliance with the Regional PSL Ordinance?
Title transfers to financial institutions resulting from a property owner losing their home to foreclosure or a similar process are not subject to Regional PSL Ordinance requirements.
Commercial / Industrial / Institutional Properties
What if I own or manage a property with a large private sewer system like a campus facility or business park?
If your property has more than 1,000 feet of laterals or private sewer lines, you are required to develop a Condition Assessment Plan describing how you will inspect all of your PSLs and submit it immediately. Next, you must complete your assessment and submit a Work Plan to the Regional PSL Program which details the condition of your sewer system and your plan to complete needed repairs or replacements. Work must be completed by either July 2026 or July 2029, depending on specific circumstances. Different deadlines apply for developments that became subject to these requirements after July 2019. For additional information, consult the Guidelines and Resources page.
What are the requirements for selling a large apartment building?
Apartment buildings owned by a single owner or entity are subject to the point of sale, building or remodeling, and water meter triggers of the Regional PSL Ordinance, similar to single family homes and commercial properties. Condominiums and complexes that have a private sewer lateral system in excess of 1,000 lineal feet are subject to separate requirements for complying with the Regional PSL Ordinance. Guidelines for properties with more than 1,000 feet of laterals and Guidelines for Condominiums and Other Common Interest Properties are available on the Guidelines and Resources page.
Homeowner Associations / Condominiums / Planned Unit Developments
Do these requirements apply to HOAs and condominiums?
Yes. HOAs are now required to submit an official Statement of Responsibility (consistent with the CC&Rs) whether the HOA has responsibility for the PSL maintenance or not. For any portions of the PSLs under maintenance responsibility of an HOA, the HOA must test and complete repairs on all of these laterals by July 12, 2021. Because this deadline has passed, all HOAs with maintenance responsibility for PSLs are required to obtain certification as soon as possible to avoid enforcement.
If the individual owner is responsible for the PSL per the CC&Rs, then lateral work must be done upon property sale, construction or remodeling in excess of $100,000 or when increasing or decreasing water meter size.
If the HOA is responsible for shared lines and individual unit owners are responsible for individual laterals, the HOA was required to obtain compliance by July 12, 2021 and individuals must comply when any of the three triggers are hit.
I'm selling my condominium/townhouse. What do I need to do?
Confirm your responsibilities per your Homeowner's Association (HOA)'s Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) and Statement of Responsibility )(SOR) form submitted to EBMUD. If your HOA is responsible for the sewer laterals and has provided EBMUD with a Statement of Responsibility, then the HOA had until July 12, 2021 to bring all of the laterals on the property into compliance and is now subject to enforcement for non-compliance. If the condominium/townhome owner is responsible for the lateral then a Compliance Certificate must be obtained: prior to title transfer, when more than $100,000 of construction or remodeling is performed, or if there is an increase or decrease in the size of the water meter.
I’m buying a condo and need to know if the HOA has provided the Statement of Responsibility (SOR) and certified the PSL as leak-free. Who do I contact?Contact the HOA to request a copy of the SOR submitted by the HOA, and contact email@example.com to ensure that EBMUD received the HOA’s SOR. In your email, ask for a copy of the SOR by providing the name of the HOA, property address and city. We will review the records and provide available documentation to you. If your HOA has submitted a SOR showing that you have no PSL maintenance responsibilities, you may be able to use that SOR during escrow to demonstrate that your unit may be sold without first obtaining a Compliance Certificate. If the SOR is incomplete EBMUD requires the HOA to provide the documentation to complete the SOR before it can be provided to homeowners.
What happens if the HOA has not provided the required documentation by November 20, 2019?
If a Statement of Responsibility (SOR) has not been submitted by the deadline, the HOA is in violation of the Regional PSL Ordinance and is subject to enforcement. If you are a potential buyer or seller of a parcel within an HOA that has not submitted an SOR, your HOA would be held responsible for the maintenance and certification of the portion of PSL within the common area by a fixed deadline stated in the Regional PSL Ordinance, and you would be held responsible when a triggering event occurs to certify the portion of the PSL within your unit’s separate interest and exclusive use common area.
If you are a unit owner in this situation, we recommend that you ask your HOA to submit the SOR required by the Regional PSL Ordinance. Alternatively, you may provide your own SOR by following the process set forth in Section 11(e) of the Ordinance.
A Time Extension Certificate can be purchased and a refundable $4,500 deposit provided which allows a new property owner 6 additional months to obtain a SOR or Compliance Certificate. The $4,500 deposit will be refunded if EBMUD is provided an SOR stating that the Property Owner is not responsible for sewer maintenance.
What enforcement actions are in place if an HOA does not comply?Enforcement action may be taken against an HOA and/or the property owners within a Common Interest Development to address non-compliance with the Regional PSL Program. Non-compliance includes failing to provide a Statement of Responsibility by November 20, 2019 (or within 180 days of formation for HOAs formed after May 24, 2019), providing an incomplete SOR, and/or failing to obtain a Compliance Certificate by the applicable required deadline. Enforcement may include the following:
- Violation follow-up fees
- Judicial enforcement
- Substantial monetary civil penalties
What if my HOA votes to change the allocation of responsibility for sewer maintenance?
If an HOA takes any action affecting the allocation of PSL maintenance responsibility within a Common Interest Development, the HOA must notify EBMUD by providing an updated Statement of Responsibility within 30 days of taking the action.
If an HOA decides to increase or decrease the length of PSL the HOA is responsible to maintain, the following requirements apply:
- If the HOA acts to increase the length of PSL the HOA is responsible to maintain: Within two years following the action, the HOA must pass a Verification Test and obtain a Compliance Certificate for the additional portion of PSL within the area of increased responsibility.
- If the HOA acts to decrease the length of PSL the HOA is responsible to maintain: Prior to taking such action, the HOA will be required to pass a Verification Test and obtain a Compliance Certificate for the portion of PSL the HOA is relinquishing responsibility for (unless the HOA has already obtained an unexpired Compliance Certificate for the portion of PSL to be relinquished).
See the Guidelines for Condominiums and Other Common Interest Developments for additional information.
My sewer lateral is less than 10 years old. Do I need a certificate from EBMUD?
If your property meets one of the three triggers and the lateral was replaced before the start of the Regional PSL Program in Alameda and Albany only, you can apply for an Exemption Certificate.
My property is located in Alameda or Albany and already has a Compliance Certificate. What do I need to do?
If you have an existing unexpired Compliance Certificate from Alameda or Albany, apply for an Exemption Certificate here. To find out if a property has an existing Alameda or Albany Compliance Certificate or to check the expiration date of an existing certificate, call EBMUD at (866) 403-2683.
The PSL on my property has passed the pressure test and a Compliance Certificate has been issued. How long is the Compliance Certificate good for?
If the work done was a complete replacement, the Compliance Certificate is valid for 20 years. For certificates obtained without complete replacement (repair or passed test without repair), the certificate is valid for 7 years.
What are the triggers that require a Compliance Certificate?
Buying or selling a property; doing more than $100,000 in building or remodeling work; and changing the water meter size.
How will you know if I haven't obtained a Compliance Certificate?
EBMUD reviews the listings of properties sold and works with its partner agencies to track building permits that have been issued for building or remodeling work in excess of $100,000. EBMUD's New Business Office provides compliance information for properties subject to the water meter trigger. If a property has not obtained a Compliance Certificate, EBMUD will take enforcement action against the property owner.
Hiring a Contractor / Doing the Work
What kind of contractor do I need for this kind of work?
Plumbing contractors generally perform sewer lateral work. Because property owners are responsible for the entire lateral from the building cleanout to the public sewer main under the street (except in Alameda and Albany where only the upper lateral must be certified), the contractor will need to meet local agency contractor licensing requirements to perform any work. Contractor licensing requirements vary by agency - check with your city's permit counter for details.
Should I have a plumber inspect the sewer lateral first or can I go straight to the verification test?
It is up to the property owner to decide how to proceed. Typically, a contractor will first inspect the lateral to determine the condition (usually a video survey of the line). If the lateral is in good condition, the contractor may recommend proceeding to the verification test.
Do I need to obtain a city permit for the work?
Yes, if work on the private sewer lateral is required, and in Emeryville a permit is required even if the lateral will be tested as-is. Most agencies in EBMUD's wastewater service area require permits to do work on the private sewer lateral.
How do I find a licensed plumbing contractor?
EBMUD has a list of contractors. It is always a good idea to check with the Contractor’s State Licensing Board prior to hiring a contractor. Visit www.cslb.ca.gov to learn more. Also, asking the contractor for references and talking with past customers is one of the best ways to accurately gauge the quality of the plumbing contractor’s work.
What should I consider when reviewing a contractor’s estimate?
It is recommended to get at least three written estimates from contractors. Many factors, such as the length of the sewer line, access to the city main, required permits, and landscape encumbrances can affect a quote. When a contractor provides an estimate, ask if your lateral can pass a pressure test in its current condition, with just a repair, or if you need a full replacement. Ask if the estimate includes any required city permits, work to remediate any illicit connections, the cost of the EBMUD Compliance Certificate, and any possible appointment re-scheduling fees that might be incurred.
How do I decide if I need to repair or fully replace my sewer lateral?
It is up to the property owner to decide how to proceed, however, it is recommended that you be present while the contractor is performing the evaluation of your sewer lateral. The plumbing contractor will typically start with a video inspection (also known as a closed circuit television, CCTV inspection). Being available for this portion of the plumbing contactor’s inspection will allow you to see the current condition and ask questions about your sewer lateral. Depending on what the contractor observes when assessing your lateral, it may be possible that no work, a repair or full replacement is needed for your lateral to pass the EBMUD pressure test.
Could I be subject to enforcement action by the City if my lateral is defective/not maintained?
Maintaining your PSL is a requirement of your city or sanitary district's local ordinance and, if defective, could be subject to enforcement action by your municipality. For Municipal or District codes see: Why Fix a Lateral?
How do I schedule an inspection?
Scheduling information, including the process for requesting, canceling and rescheduling inspections, is provided to assist you.
Why does EBMUD require an air or water verification test?
The plumbing industry has determined that an air pressure test or water exfiltration test is the best way to ensure that the PSL does not allow water from the surrounding soil to infiltrate the sanitary sewer system.
What happens at the inspection?
EBMUD will witness the verification test. The test should be conducted per the provided guidelines and is usually done by a qualified contractor. See pages 3 to 6 of the guidelines for test setups. You or your contractor should be ready to conduct the test at the start of the appointment window, as explained in the guidelines and the scheduling information.
Can I set up the verification test myself or do I need to hire a plumber to do it?
EBMUD does not have specific requirements for contractors to set up the verification test, however, special equipment is often needed. For this reason, the setup of the verification test is usually performed by contractors who specialize in this type of work.
When should my contractor first schedule the verification test?
The verification test should be scheduled with EBMUD at the start of the work - a few days ahead of when the contractor thinks the verification test setup will be ready. Go to the online scheduling tool, pay the fee and schedule an appointment. Appointment windows are available Monday through Friday, 8-11 a.m., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 - 5 p.m., excluding District holidays. The contractor should be ready at the beginning of the appointment window. Due to the large number of inspections performed by EBMUD, inspectors are not able to wait at the site if the contractor is not ready.
Time Extension Certificate Requests
I can't get the sewer lateral replaced before the close of escrow; what options do I have?
You can apply for a Time Extension Certificate, which allows six months from the certificate issuance date to obtain a Compliance Certificate. A $4,500 deposit is required to assure that the work will be completed.
I will replace the sewer lateral the day after I purchase the house; do I still need to pay the deposit?
Yes; once the sale closes, if the lateral has not been brought into compliance and a Time Extension Certificate with a deposit has not been submitted, the property is out of compliance with the Regional PSL Ordinance and is subject to enforcement actions.
How long will it take to get my $4,500 deposit back?
Generally four to six weeks from when a Compliance Certificate has been obtained, assuming the submitted Time Extension Certificate is complete, and correct contact information has been provided for the refund recipient.
What if I don't submit the $4,500 deposit or mail back the Time Extension Certificate?
If the $4,500 deposit is not submitted, the Time Extension Certificate is not valid and the property will be out of compliance. The property owner will then be subject to enforcement actions.
Stege Sanitary District / El Cerrito
I live on a paving moratorium street in El Cerrito. What do I do?
The Regional PSL ordinance applies to streets covered by the El Cerrito paving moratorium. All properties are eligible to apply for a Time Extension Certificate if they have been through a recent title transfer. If that does not provide enough time, and if excavation is unavoidable, then special street restoration requirements will apply. Here is a link to the City of El Cerrito's paving moratorium information: El Cerrito Paving Moratorium
What if I don't have online access?
Please call us at (510) 287-1178.
What information about my property will be publicly available?
EBMUD's PSL website will display property address, parcel number, scheduled inspection appointment, and certificate status to help real estate agents and other professionals to process transactions on behalf of their clients. For additional information, please see the Privacy page.
When I go to make a payment, the screen goes blank. What should I do?
Please try changing your browser.
I'd like to make my PSL payment in person. What do I do?
We are currently not accepting payment in person.