Santa Cruz County Sewer Lateral Inspection Ordinance

Maintaining the integrity of the sewer system is a shared responsibility. In the Santa Cruz County, homeowners shoulder a significant part of this task. Understanding the Santa Cruz sewer lateral inspection ordinance is essential for homeowners planning to sell a home in Santa Cruz, as well as for those looking to keep their plumbing system in top shape. This article provides an in-depth look at the ordinance, its implications, and the steps homeowners need to take to comply.

Overview of the Santa Cruz Sewer Lateral Inspection Ordinance

The Santa Cruz sewer lateral inspection ordinance is a regulation put in place to ensure the proper function and maintenance of private sewer laterals, the pipes connecting a property’s plumbing system to the public sewer main. This ordinance was established due to the crucial role these private laterals play in the overall sanitation system of the county.

This article will deal mostly with the Sewer Lateral Inspection Ordinance in Santa Cruz County Рhowever there are also sewer lateral inspection ordinances in the City of Santa Cruz and the City of Watsonville.  They have separate sewer lateral inspection ordinances with their own requirements and forms.  However, while Santa Cruz and Watsonville have separate ordinances, the way they are implemented is overall similar to how it works in the unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County.

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The Importance of Sewer Lateral Inspection

Regular inspection of sewer laterals is essential for several reasons. First, it helps detect any damage or blockages that could lead to sewage spills, which pose significant environmental and health risks. Second, it ensures the smooth operation of the entire sewer system, preventing potential disruptions that can be expensive to repair. The ordinances were put in place at the behest of the state of California which is working with the counties and municipalities to increase the cleanliness of water supplies and waterways.

Who is Affected by the Santa Cruz County Ordinance?

The sewer lateral inspection ordinance applies to property owners within any Santa Cruz County¬†sanitation district.¬† If you’re planning to sell your property, you’re required by law to have your sewer lateral inspected by a licensed plumber. If the inspection reveals any issues, they must be repaired before the sale of the property can be finalized.

The Inspection Process

The inspection process involves using specialized camera equipment to examine the sewer lateral for any signs of damage or blockage. The inspection must be performed by a county-certified plumber. If the inspection passes, the county issues a PRIVATE SANITARY SEWER LATERAL INSPECTION REPORT REVIEW, which is required for the sale of the property.  It will indicate if the county deems any repairs are necessary.

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Dealing with Failing Inspections

If your sewer lateral fails the inspection, you have two options. You can either repair the sewer line to meet county standards yourself, or you can transfer the responsibility of repair to the buyer. In the latter case, you’ll need to complete a Transfer of Responsibility to Repair form, and the buyer will have 90 days from the date of sale to carry out the repairs.

Exemptions to the Rule

There are exemptions to the sewer lateral inspection requirement. If your property’s sewer lateral was constructed within 20 years of the sale date or has passed an inspection within the past five years, you are exempted from the inspection requirement.¬† Likewise, if the property you are buying is a condominium or a townhouse with a homeowner association, it is probable that the HOA will be responsible for maintaining the sewer laterals as these are commonly maintained by the association, not the individual homeowner, per the CC&Rs of whatever association.

Costs Involved in the Inspection and Repair Process

The costs associated with sewer lateral inspection and repair can vary based on several factors, including the accessibility of your sewer lateral and the extent of the damage or blockage found. Typically, inspections are performed for free by local plumbing companies, who are hoping to be first in line to get any repair work that may result from the inspection.  Since repair work can easily run $10,000 or more (but is often less), this is a lucrative source of business for these plumbing companies.

However, the inspections aren’t free – many plumbers will charge for these inspections, and if there is no sewer clean-out present (as is often the case for older properties), they may have to end up pulling a toilet to snake the sewer line that way.¬† In these cases, you can expect the sewer lateral inspection in Santa Cruz County will cost anywhere between $200 to $500. If repairs are necessary, the costs can significantly escalate, depending on the nature of the repairs needed.

Finding Certified Plumbers for the Job

It’s crucial to hire a city-certified plumber for your sewer lateral inspection. These professionals have the necessary training and equipment to ensure a thorough and accurate inspection. Several local plumbing companies offer sewer lateral inspection services, and you can find a list of certified plumbers on the city of Santa Cruz official website.¬† The county does not maintain its own list of certified plumbers.

Final Thoughts

Complying with the Santa Cruz sewer lateral inspection ordinance is not only a legal obligation for homeowners but also a crucial step in maintaining the city’s sewer system and protecting the environment. Regular inspections and timely repairs help prevent sewage spills, safeguard public health, and contribute to the overall well-being of the community.

By understanding the ordinance and taking proactive steps, homeowners can play their part in maintaining the integrity of Santa Cruz’s sewer system while ensuring their property’s plumbing system remains in top condition.

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Seb Frey helps long-time Bay Area homeowners make their next move easily the next one yet. If you're looking for a minimum of hassle, maximum net cash on sale, and certain results, contact Seb today.