I've been notified that my sewer lateral needs to be replaced or repaired, now what?

City staff met virtually with property owners on December 10, 2020, to discuss sewer lateral repair and answer Q&A.

Please note that in this meeting recording, a property owner shares estimated sewer lateral repair costs of $28,000 to $68,000. These costs were bids from general contractors using traditional excavation. Since then, a trenchless specialty company has provided the same property owner with a bid of $14,300 per sewer lateral. There are a variety of methods that can be used to complete the project and it is up to the property owner to select their preferred method and contractor.

Property owners are responsible for the maintenance and construction of their privately owned sewer laterals. Because their sewer lateral runs under the city right way, construction is subject to City municipal code 12.12.010 for street and sidewalk excavation and encroachment. The City of St. Helena cannot recommend specific contractors, although a list of licensed contractors who complete this type of work can be found here. Property owners may seek bids from as many contractors as they see fit, once they've selected a contractor they are to file for a city encroachment permit. Prior to connection at the main, if necessary, Utilities Division personnel will witness testing of the entire line from the building cleanout to the connection to the main. Testing will be performed by the applicant's contractor.

Suggested steps for Lateral replacement with neighboring building owners:

  1. Connect with neighboring building owners who also need lateral work
    If a contractor can secure multiple jobs at once, they will likely offer a better rate per foot.
  2. Collect bids for all lateral work for building owners to review
    The number of solicited contractor bids is up to the building owners to decide as a group. The City cannot steer the work to a specific contractor, but can provide a list of local companies who perform this type of work. It's up to the owners to verify the qualifications of the contractors to ensure they hold the proper licensing and insurance. See list of licensed contractors here.
  3. Building Owner(s) select contractor to secure the work
    The contract between the contractor and building owners does not involve the city. The contractor will work with the city's public works department for encroachment permits, and any other needs.
  4. Secure a title company to act as the construction escrow officer
    The simplest way to pay the contractor is by securing a title company where all building owners can deposit their funds for work, and the title company will pay out the contractor. It is unlikely the contractor will want to collect multiple payments for one contract.

Show All Answers

1. What is a sewer lateral?
2. I have a question about my specific lateral, who can I speak to?
3. How long does a sewer lateral last?
4. Who is responsible for the sewer lateral?
5. What problems are associated with damaged sewer laterals?
6. I've been notified that my sewer lateral needs to be replaced or repaired, now what?