Sanitary Sewer Lateral Program

Caution: Before any work is performed on your sewer, please call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to determine if a small-diameter gas pipeline crosses through your sewer lateral.

Sewer Lateral Permit

A permit is required for any repair, replacement, or abandonment, or for a verification test on a private sewer lateral. 

Please apply for a permit in person at the City Hall Building Department: 1333 Park Street, Emeryville. The application can be viewed here: City of Emeryville Sewer Lateral Permit Application. It is also permissible to print and fill out the form yourself before bringing it to the application counter at City Hall, but please note that the form must be printed on 8.5" by 14" paper (legal size)


There are two main types of inspection/testing associated with private sewer lateral work: inspections by the City Public Works (PW) Inspector and verification tests. The City PW Inspector is required to come for all sewer lateral work, as part of the permitting process described above. Separately, the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) usually requires a verification test, which must be witnessed by a representative from EBMUD and the City PW Inspector. Sewer laterals that pass the verification test receive a Compliance Certificate.

Call Emeryville's Public Works Inspector prior to starting any work. The inspector usually comes a total of five times for each project. See inspection schedule for details. 

Verification Tests

A verification test is an air or water pressure test that indicates whether a pipe is watertight. The specifications for conducting a verification test are in EBMUD’s Contractor Guidelines.

Property owners are required by the EPA to perform a verification test for any of the below reasons (often referred to as triggers): 
  • sale of property
  • construction or remodeling on the property totaling over $100,000 within 3 years
  • change in size of the water meter
The verification test cannot be performed until after the City PW Inspector has completed the third call (see inspection schedule). In most cases, a private sewer lateral will not pass the verification test unless some repair or replacement is performed. EBMUD has an online scheduling tool for their inspections.

A Compliance Certificate is good for 7 years if the existing sewer lateral was unaltered or repaired. It is good for 20 years if the entire lateral was fully replaced or lined.


Please check the application link above for the most up-to-date permit fees. The cost of inspection by a City PW Inspector is included in the sewer lateral permit fee. In addition, there is a EBMUD Compliance Certificate fee required for a verification test.

Verification Test Exemptions

A verification test exemption may be issued by EBMUD for any sewer lateral that has been fully replaced in the past 10 years. The property owner or owner’s representative must present EBMUD with a signed, final building permit indicating the date when the replacement was completed. An Exemption Certificate is good for 10 years from this date. 

An exemption may also be issued by the City for work on the lower lateral only (the portion from the property line to the city main) if the City has replaced the lower lateral within the past 10 years as part of a city sewer rehabilitation project. This exemption does not relieve the property owner of the requirement of passing a verification test on the upper lateral if one of the triggers has been met.

About Private Sewer Laterals

Typical Sewer Connection A private sewer lateral is a pipe that transports wastewater from a private property to the City’s sewer mains. In Emeryville, private sewer laterals make up 50% of the sewer system.The maintenance and repair of the private sewer lateral is the responsibility of the property owner. Properties are required to obtain a Compliance Certificate as proof that their private sewer lateral has passed a verification test and does not leak.


During rain and other wet weather, leaky sewage pipes can become filled with rainwater. Since the sanitary sewer system is only intended for sewage, the excess water overwhelms the system and sometimes leads to partially treated sewage being dumped in the Bay. Since the early 1980s, Bay Area communities have been working together to reduce this problem. The City of Emeryville alone has spent about $10 million to replace 70% of its sewer mains. These projects have reduced wet weather flow by 30% and eliminated 8 locations that routinely had overflows.


In response to changes in State and Federal regulations, both the City of Emeryville and EBMUD adopted new sewer lateral ordinances in 2011. The City of Emeryville's Waste Water Collection Ordinance addresses the building sewer standards, connections to the city’s sewer mains, sewer use regulations, charges and fees, and enforcement. The EBMUD ordinance regulates upper sewer laterals (Title VIII). Although the two ordinances differ, the City of Emeryville ordinance is stricter and by complying with it, the property owner will also comply with the EBMUD ordinance.

Construction Considerations

Very old pipes with a history of maintenance problems will likely need to be completely replaced or lined. Newer pipes may only require spot repairs. Sometimes only the upper lateral needs work, if the lower lateral was redone recently. 

The contractor may choose to perform a closed-circuit television inspection (CCTV) of the pipe. The CCTV inspection will identify any obvious defects such as cracks, roots and open or offset joints, but not necessarily smaller things such as leaky joints.

All private sewer lateral construction must be done by a contractor appropriately licensed by the State of California.
  • contractors with an A, C34, or C42 license may work in the public right-of-way
  • contractors with a C36 license may work on private property only  
New lateral pipes must comply with the City of Emeryville construction standards. The City of Emeryville limits acceptable sewer lateral pipe material to: 
  • Vitrified clay pipe (VCP)
  • High density polyethylene SDR-17 pipe (HDPE)
  • Ductile iron pipe (DIP)
  • Epoxy Resin Cured-in-Place Pipe liner (CIPP) (with Public Works Department Approval only)
The city requires all cleanouts to be two-way and cast iron. Normally, two cleanouts are required, one approximately 2 feet inside of the curb line and the other approximately 2 feet from the building. For zero-lot-line properties, a single cleanout approximately 2 feet from the building is acceptable. All connections to the existing building plumbing and city sewer mains must have stainless-steel-banded, water-tight, rubber couplings. 

Roof leaders, area drains, and sump pumps are not permitted to be connected to the sanitary sewer system. If they exist, they must be disconnected from the sewer lateral.

Individually Owned Units in a Multi-Unit Structure (HOA)

Properties Included:

  • individually owned units within a multi-unit residential condominium
  • commercial condominium
  • common interest development that is served by a single or shared private sewer lateral 
  • properties with ground-floor retail and upper-floor dwellings
  • development originally planned as a condominium, but with all unit ownership still held by an individual or development corporation
This type of development, its owner(s), and/or property manager are referred to as a Homeowners’ Association or “HOA.” Ownership and responsibilities for the association's sewer laterals should be outlined by the HOA's Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs).


By July 12, 2021, all HOAs will be required to successfully pass a verification test on their private sanitary sewer laterals and obtain a Compliance Certificate from EBMUD. As of January 1, 2017, each HOA must have submitted a Reserve Study to the City of Emeryville Public Works Director, as required by California Civil Code Section 5550. This Reserve Study must clearly identify the need and the funding for the work to be performed on the private sewer laterals in order to pass the verification test.

HOAs must complete the following items by July 12, 2021 as per City ordinance:

  • perform inspections of all building sewer lateral(s)
  • obtain sewer lateral permit
  • perform required construction
  • schedule inspections with the City and EBMUD
  • pass a verification test witnessed by the City and EBMUD for each sewer lateral serving the property and obtain compliance certificate
  • abandon any inactive building sewer lateral(s)
  • obtain a final inspection from the City
For more:
If a private sewer system is less than 10 years old, it is possible that it can pass the verification test and receive a Compliance Certificate without doing any repairs. A verification tests should be performed right away to find out.


After receiving a Compliance Certificate, private sewer laterals do not need to be re-certified for another 20 years.

Commercial Properties with More Than 1,000 ft of Private Sewers

Properties Included:
  • commercial planned unit development
  • a group of individual contiguous commercial properties that share a private sewer lateral system
  • a single commercial property with laterals totaling more than 1,000 ft
All properties in this category were responsible for submitting a Corrective Action Work Plan to the City of Emeryville Public Works Director by June of 2016. In addition, a sale of property or remodeling project amounting to more than $100,000 also requires a Corrective Action Work Plan to be submitted. This Work Plan must clearly define the extent of work and estimated cost.  Property owners or responsible parties will have 12 months to prepare the Work Plan. The Public Works Director will give the property owner a deadline in writing. The Work Plan must also be approved EBMUD.

Corrective Action Work Plan Required Components:
  • brief property description including assessor’s parcel numbers (find your parcel number here), addresses, ownership, and a list of tenants and/or residents
  • layout of private sewer lateral system including a site map, pipe lengths, diameters, material, and age (if known)
  • documentation of any service or repair history (if available)
  • summary any CCTV inspection, smoke testing or other assessments 
  • conceptual plan for rehabilitation/repair of system (as needed)
  • reach-by-reach method (open-cut trench, pipe bursting, or cured-in-place pipe liner)
  • manhole rehabilitation plan
  • cost estimate for construction
  • timeline for construction and verification test
  • constraints due to tenant operations
  • any other information that would affect the rehabilitation or repair
The Emeryville Public Works Director and EBMUD are available to discuss the Work Plan. They reserve the right to approve it with conditions.

If a private sewer system is less than 10 years old, it is possible that it can pass the verification test and receive a Compliance Certificate without doing any repairs. A verification test should be performed right away to find out.

After the property has been issued a Compliance Certificate from EBMUD, the private sewer laterals do not need to be re-certified for another 20 years.

For More Information

City of Emeryville