SLO residents: You could be on the hook for $10,000 to replace your sewer piping

Some “sewer lateral” piping on private properties across San Luis Obispo is getting old, breaking down and causing unsanitary overflows, particularly in times of very rainy weather.

That’s why the City Council approved a new ordinance this week triggering required inspections under certain circumstances.

And homeowners could be on the hook to pay for the cost of replacing the underground piping, which extends from private property to the city’s mainline in the street.

The average cost to replace the piping that’s technically on private property is between $8,000 and $10,000.

An inspection using a camera determines if the underground infrastructure is deteriorated and requires repair or replacement.

But the city is offering a $2,000 rebate, from its wastewater funding resources, for those who would be responsible.

Residents who already replaced their sewer laterals dating back to 2017 are eligible for a $1,000 rebate, under the council’s decision.

“The city estimates that there are 12,000 private sewer laterals citywide, of which approximately 7,000 private sewer laterals are located in capacity constrained areas,” SLO officials wrote in a staff report. “The average length of a single-family residential private sewer lateral is 65 feet.”

Unlike public sewer lines, these private sewer laterals “are not routinely inspected, maintained, or repaired/replaced on an interval to ensure they are in good condition,” SLO officials stated in a staff report.

Some of the events that could trigger an inspection include:

private sewer overflow

building permit applications for a bathroom or kitchen

building permit applications for non-residential structures with plumbing fixtures


changes in ownership of property

Realtors who spoke at the meeting expressed concern the city’s ordinance could delay the sale of a home and require an inspection that may deter buyership.

The cost to replace the sewer laterals would have to be decided between the buyer and seller.

But council member Carlyn Christianson compared the inspection to a termite inspection, saying it would work in a similar way during the homebuying process, and it’s a necessary check.

The city had a Voluntary Sewer Lateral Replacement rebate program from approximately 1997 to 2009 to address the concerns of unmaintained private sewer infrastructure.

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