Frequently Asked Questions
What is a private sewer lateral?
Laterals, also known as building sanitary sewers, are the sewer pipes that carry wastewater from toilets, sinks and drains and connect from the house or building to the City’s public sewer pipelines. They are typically made of 4” diameter clay or plastic pipe. On private properties the sewer lines from the exterior of the building to the main public sewer line, including the connection.
What is a private sanitary sewer collection system?
This is a combination of multiple residences, on the same private property (e.g., apartment complexes, office buildings), sewer lines from the exterior of the building to the main public sewer line, including the connection.
Why is the sewer lateral program necessary?
Wastewater (sewage) from homes and businesses in Morgan Hill flows in private pipes (laterals) to neighborhood collection pipes and is ultimately carried in a large trunk line down to the wastewater treatment facility in Gilroy. While this trunk line is designed to carry all the wastewater generated by homes and businesses, it is not large enough to carry stormwater too. Unfortunately, as the wastewater collection system has aged these private sewer laterals are subject to the cracking, root-fill, displacement, and failures that allow stormwater to rush in and overflow the City’s infrastructure during large storm events. This stormwater intrusion has resulted in sewage overflows in the trunk line that can pollute local creeks and rivers and could ultimately compromise drinking water quality.
When does the program come into effect?
Beginning June 1, 2022, inspections will be required and repairs made, if needed, for all private properties prior to the event of a resale.
Who is affected by this program?
All private property owners - residential, commercial, industrial - within the city limits of Morgan Hill. This ordinance applies to all properties that are more than 15 years old. If the property is a new construction that is 15 years or less of age, this inspection is not required.
What are the responsibilities of private property owners?
- Maintain a fully functional lateral sewer system
- Prior to the sale of a property, find and hire a National Association of Sewer Service Companies (NASSCO) certified licensed plumber, known as a Qualified Contractor, to complete a CCTV video inspection of the sewer lateral
- Submit the completed inspection report and CCTV video inspection via DVD or flash drive to the Utility Billing Services
- The video and report will be reviewed by the City of Morgan Hill
- If the inspection passes, the Certificate of Compliance from the City of Morgan Hill will be given to the property owner
- If the inspection does not pass, the damages will need to be repaired and a new inspection that passes will have to be performed by the Qualified Contractor
What if this delays the sale of the property?
To mitigate any property transfer delays the two participating parties may choose to complete the Transfer of Responsibility to Repair Form, allowing for the buyer to take responsibility for all repairs that may need to be done on the private sewer lateral in order to pass inspection. The new property owner will be allotted 180 days to complete the repairs. Buyers who do not complete the improvements as required will be subject to penalties and could have their water and wastewater service terminated.
What is the estimated cost?
Inspection of private sewer laterals may cost from $300-$500 depending on the Qualified Contractor chosen. If the private sewer lateral lines cannot be accessed it may be necessary to install a new cleanout pine, which can range from $2,000 to $4,000 plus the inspection cost. Fixing serious structural or operation defects can vary widely in cost, with a full lateral replacement including new clean-out costing on average between $10,000 - $15,000.
What does the inspection consist of?
In compliance with this ordinance, a Qualified Contractor must perform a closed-circuit TV inspection of the private sewer lateral, typically from the clean-out in the sidewalk down to the connection to the sewer main in the street. A Qualified Contractor is defined as a licensed plumbing contractor with a City of Morgan Hill business license and an active pipeline or lateral assessment certification from NASSCO. The Qualified Contactor will complete the Private Sewer Lateral Inspection Form that must be filed with the City. The Qualified Contractor will inform the property owner if the inspection passed or failed and if any repairs need to be made to the sewer lines.
Where do I start?
- The first step is the inspection. Search for a NASSCO certified licensed contractor in the area. Under the LOCATION text box, type in "Morgan Hill" and use the drop down menu for the RADIUS box to search for a Qualified Contactor to hire. We recommend calling and receiving a few quotes. Schedule the inspection with the Qualified Contractor of your choice.
- Have the Qualified Contractor complete the inspection at the property and completely fill out the Private Sewer Lateral Inspection Form.
- Bring the Private Sewer Lateral Inspection form and a copy of the DVD/Flash Drive of the video inspection to the Morgan Hill Utility Building front desk.
- Upon approval, you will receive a Certificate of Compliance. The certificate is valid for ten years.
- Keep this certificate for any future real estate transactions and hand over to new property owner upon sale.
What if repairs need to be made?
If the initial inspection fails to pass, all repairs must be completed to obtain a Certificate of Compliance. On the Private Sewer Lateral Inspection Form the Qualified Contractor will notate what repairs need to be completed by any licensed contractor with a City of Morgan Hill business license in order to pass a future inspection. A second inspection will need to take place after the repairs are completed to pass the inspection for the property. If the seller of the property negotiates with the buyer, a Transfer of Responsibility to Repair Form my be completed.
Does a Qualified Contractor have to perform the repairs/replacement?
No. If repairs are necessary, they can be conducted by any licensed plumbing contractor with a City of Morgan Hill business license. The NASSCO certified licensed contractor is only necessary for the inspection, but not required for any needed repairs. A Qualified Contractor, specifically a NASSCO certified licensed contractor, will be required to conduct the final inspection after any repairs are made.
Why do I need a Certificate of Compliance?
A Certificate of Compliance is needed in the City of Morgan Hill for the property owner to begin new water services.