EBMUD (PSL) Private Sewer Lateral Program

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with the California Regional Quality Control Board (RWQCB) have joined forces to clean up San Francisco Bay. In order to do this they require the EBMUD or East Bay Municipal Utility District, one sewer district and six of the East Bay cities to fix old and cracked sewer pipes. The reason for this is that rainwater can get into these pipes and overwhelm the existing waste water treatment facilities. This would result in partially or untreated sewage escaping into the Bay. In order to comply EBMUD are gradually introducing the PSL or Regional Private Sewer Lateral Ordinance in a few of the east bay neighborhoods. Homeowners affected by this ordinance will have the requirement to obtain a certificate from EBMUD to prove that their PSL has no defects and have properly connected pipe work.

A private sewer lateral or PSL is the pipe that connects the plumbing in your home or business on to the main sewer. The PSL carries all the sewage from the building into the sewer. It is the responsibility of the individual owners of properties to maintain their sewer lateral. Most of the PSL's in the East Bay area were built in the 1950's and were made of Clay. Over time this pipe work has become worn and cracked causing the situation that we have today.

The Regional PSL program will affect all the properties in the EBMUD wastewater service area. This includes Oakland, Emeryville, Kensington, El Cerrito, the Richmond Annex and Piedmont. The cities of Albany, Berkeley and Alameda all have private sewer lateral ordinances and are thus unaffected. If you own a property in any of the affected areas you will require a PSL compliance certificate.

There are some circumstances for exemption. If the PSL on your property is less than 10 years old and it was fully replaced before August 2011 you may be exempt. You will need to provide documented valid evidence of the date and all the work that was carried out. In this case you will need to provide this information to the Regional PSL Program Administrator. EBMUD will review the proof you've provided and if you are in compliance, an exemption certificate will be issued that you can print out on-line. This exemption certificate will expire 10 years from the original date of the PSL replacement. If the application isn't approved you will need a compliance certificate.

The test that EBMUD requires your properties PSL to pass is an air pressure test or water ex-filtration test. This test was designed with input from the plumbing industry as the most effective way to determine if water from the surrounding soil is entering the sewer system. All reputable plumbers in the affected and surrounding areas are aware of this test and are capable of carrying it out. If the property cannot pass the test there will be repairs to be carried out. There is a deadline for when this work needs to be completed, but these dates vary according to the type of building and the area they are located in. For peace of mind, a property owner in the affected areas should seek more information from the PSL website.

Many property owners are finding these new regulations a little overwhelming. However there is no need to be stressed, if you're in any doubt as to whether these regulation changes will affect you, speak to your contractor. If you have any further questions or you would like to know more about how to deal with your PSL related issues, contact Scott English Plumbing.