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FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the City of Los Angeles Sewer System:

Q. What is a sewer lateral?
A. A sewer lateral is a pipe that carries wastewater from buildings on private property (for example from homes or businesses) to the mainline sewer. The sewer lateral consists of upper and lower laterals. The upper lateral extends from the building structure to the property line. The lower lateral extends from the property line to the street. The mainline sewer is usually located under the street; it may also be located under an alley or in an easement on private property.

Click here for a diagram.

 
Q. There is a problem with my sewer lateral. Will the City fix it?

A. Unfortunately, no. In Los Angeles, as in most other cities and municipalities, property owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing sewer laterals, including the lower lateral.

 
Q. Why doesn’t the City repair my property’s lower sewer lateral? It is located under a public street.
A. In the City of Los Angeles, as in most other cities and municipalities, property owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing sewer laterals, including the lower lateral. In the City of Los Angeles, in almost all cases, the owner of private property owns the property to the centerline of the street. An easement grants access to the street by the public. The City’s Municipal Code allows property owners to connect to the public mainline sewer through sewer laterals. Though the lower lateral is located under the street or otherwise in the public right-of-way, the lateral can legally only serve one property lot. Therefore, it is not for the public benefit and the City cannot maintain or repair lower laterals at the expense of the City's ratepayers.
  

Q. Can my plumber work on my sewer line?
A. If the work is to be done entirely on your property, yes. A plumber with a C-36 Contractor's license and a Los Angeles City business license can do the work. If the work is to be done in the public right of way, a Class "A" Permit is required. These are issued by the City's Bureau of Engineering.

 

Q. What kind of pipe can I use to repair my sewer line?
A. Please see Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 64.17 Sewer Connection Regulations.

 

Q. What type of permit is required?
A. Permits for work on your private property are issued by the City's Building and Safety Division. Class "A" Permits for work within public right-of-way are issued by the City's Bureau of Engineering. 

 

Q. How do I find a reliable contractor?
A. Helpful information on finding (and hiring) a reliable contractor is provided to consumers by the California Contractors State License Board.
  

Q. Where do I get information on protecting my sewer lateral from damage by tree roots?
A. Helpful information on tree roots is available here


Q. If a City-owned tree causes root intrusion or damage to a sewer lateral located under a City street, who is responsible for cleaning or repairing the lateral?
A. In Los Angeles, as in most other cities and municipalities, property owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing sewer laterals, including the lower lateral. This is true even if the source of root intrusion or damage is partly or entirely from trees planted on public right-of-way. The City’s Municipal Code allows property owners to connect to the public mainline sewer through sewer laterals. Though the lower lateral is located under the street or otherwise in the public right-of-way, the lateral can legally only serve one property lot. Therefore, it is not for the public benefit and the City cannot maintain or repair laterals at the expense of the City's ratepayers.

 

The Bureau of Street Services Urban Forestry Division will assist property owners in acquiring the necessary permits if the sewer problem involves a street tree.
 

Helpful information on tree roots is available here.

 

Q. Does the City provide financial assistance to property owners for lateral repair or replacement?
A. Unfortunately, the City does not provide financial assistance to property owners for lateral repair or replacement. In Los Angeles, as in most other cities and municipalities, property owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing sewer laterals.