The South San Francisco City Council Wednesday unanimously approved introducing an ordinance that would gradually uncover aging sewer laterals on resident properties by assigning inspection and replacement responsibilities to property owners.
The Private Sewer Lateral Construction, Maintenance and Inspection Ordinance aims to address issues with the city’s orangeburg sewer laterals on 35 percent of South City properties.
“[Orangeberg] is not good under pressure once it starts to get soft,” said Terry White, director of Public Works.
Orangeburg, a product utilized heavily in the 1950s, is comprised of compacted paper and tar. Its life span is approximately 50 years.
Sewer laterals, pipes that connect homes to the larger pubic main sewer, can be inspected by the city if they have cleanouts, which are easily accessed from city streets.
However, 45 percent of South City residents are without cleanouts.
With the ordinance, White said, residents without cleanouts would be responsible for inspecting the quality of sewer laterals before the sale of their property and replacing the sewer lateral if orangeburg is found.
If the city discovers orangeburg, a resident is given 120 to replace the sewer lateral.
According to White, the cost for replacement ranges from $5,000 to $9,000.
“It has to be replaced and addressed,” White said. “It will also protect the public’s health.”
There is a grant, White said, which will allow the city to assist residents with up to $2,500 of inspection costs.
The city is under obligation to address the aging sewer laterals by the Baykeeper decree regarding sewage spills.
“There are lower chances of having back ups into the bay or into the streets,” White said.
The city will continue discussion with possible revisions before the council formally adopts the ordinance.