The Board of Commissioners in September adopted new regulations to support the timely inspection, repair and replacement of private sewer laterals. The ordinance is aimed at preventing sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) that can occur during wet weather conditions.
Effective January 1, 2018, two events will require property owners within the Township of Upper St. Clair to hire a National Association of Sewer Service Companies (NASSCO) certified contractor to conduct a video inspection of their private sewer lateral, at the property owner’s expense.
1. Prior to the close of a sale for any property.
2. Property improvements that require a Township building permit and an Allegheny County plumbing permit. An example of this is if a property owner constructs an addition to an existing home that includes a new bathroom.
The property owner will be required to submit the inspection results and a copy of the video to the Township. If the inspection yields no defects or failures, the Township will issue a letter of compliance. If there are defects or failures, any repair or replacement of the sewer lateral must be completed prior to the close of escrow of the sale or, if there is no escrow, prior to recording the deed or other document transferring title. Inspection of any work required will be made by the Allegheny County Health Department. Property owners that are considering selling are strongly recommended to hire a NASSCO-certified contractor to inspect the private sewer lateral early in the process.
A private sewer lateral is the pipe that connects a business or home’s plumbing system to the Township’s wastewater collection main pipeline. The lateral is considered the “private” segment when it is located on private property and serves the purposes of an individual, privately owned building. The property owner is responsible for the entire pipe length, including the wye or saddle at the point of connection to the Township’s mainline. The Township is responsible for the maintenance of the main pipelines that carry used water from homes and businesses. To protect public health and safety, these pipes are regularly inspected and repaired to maintain their integrity.
Many older homes still rely on original sewer laterals that have become cracked, disjointed or damaged by earth settlement or blockages. Unmaintained private laterals that become blocked or fail can contribute to SSOs of the public sewer system or to sewage backups into the building served by the private lateral. Some of the causes for concern for unmaintained private laterals are described below:
-Earth settlement that results in cracks and leaks in the private lateral allows for the “inflow” of groundwater into the private lateral. This additional groundwater flows into the public sewer main, increases the wastewater flow in the collection system and has the potential to overload the system, creating SSOs.
-If roof drains, irrigation drains and driveway drains are connected (illegally) to the private lateral, this increases the “infiltration” of rainwater into the public
sewer system, which can lead to system overloads.
-Grease build‐up in the private lateral (like plaque in a person’s artery) can cause blockages that potentially result in on‐site SSOs or backups of wastewater into the building that is served by the blocked private lateral. The combination of inflow and infiltration from private laterals, across a wide area (neighborhoods or commercial districts), can significantly increase the wastewater flow in the public sewer main and to the treatment plant. Infiltration and inflow from private laterals are currently a major source of SSOs in communities.
South Fayette and Peters Townships are some of the other municipalities in the area with similar regulations. Contact the Department of Public Works or Community Development at 412-831-9000 with any questions or comment. A copy of the new ordinance can be found on theTownship’s website, twpusc.org/public-works/sewers.
The Township also requires dye testing at the time of sale of a property.
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