What Are Requirements for Sewer Laterals in Oakland and the East Bay?

In the East Bay region, all residential, commercial and industrial properties are subject to the EBMUD PSL Program.

A Quick Refresher: The EBMUD ordinance is a local program with the aim of improving the Bay Area water environment. It is a response to the community’s old, cracked sewer pipes causing rain infiltration that overwhelms our cities’ wastewater facilities: when too much water seeps into the old, broken pipes around our homes, wastewater backs up and flows into the San Francisco Bay. 


Top 5 Compliance Tips

To learn more, you can read all the details in our EBMUD PSL Compliance blog post; or, read the top 5 compliance tips you need to worry about as a homeowner below.

1) Understand the Costs of Compliance


There are two primary cost factors to consider when it comes to PSL compliance: fees and penalties.

Property owners can incur expensive penalty fees for not gaining their compliance within the time given. Some of those penalties can amount to hundreds of dollars per day (even upward of $500 per day). Remember, the City jurisdiction has their fees for non-compliance and it can begin to add up rather quickly.

The set fees associated with obtaining a compliance certificate can be found on the East Bay PSL fees webpage, although you should verify the current prices when you schedule the compliance inspection.

As of July 1st 2020, EBMUD Sewer Compliance Fees have been updated and the latest information can be found on the East Bay PSL website. Pipe Spy integrates these fees in our invoices for your compliance work so it is itemized and detailed to include replacement or repair of the sewer lateral plus labor, equipment use and material fees associated with the performing the compliance testing. In some cases there can be associated fees incurred for additional laterals on the property, the scheduling of test inspections (during off-hours) and various compliance agreements. Note that HOA locations will have different fees and processes as applicable.

2) Camera Inspections Beat ALL

Do yourself a favor and get one!


You really need to have a CAM in order to determine which end is up and how to move forward on a sewer project. It saves time and money in the longer term and gives the most accurate data on your sewer line and other underground issues.

Without a sewer line camera inspection, you could be facing multiple challenges down the line:

  • Dangerous safety issues
  • Finding out that more extensive work needs to be done after breaking ground during a repair or replacement
  • Discovering that the City wants you to comply with something more than you expected because of how your line is situated on the property

These things happen. The only way to avoid it is by ensuring you understand the extent of the damage hiding underground by viewing it on a camera screen.

3) There’s a Time Limit

plumber cost

If you’re in the real estate market, don’t miss your compliance window!

180 days is the extension period for people buying or selling their home and it can take a few weeks to get in the queue for replacement or repair. While the actual trenchless replacement takes only a day or two the contractor’s calendar could be booked out. Property owners need to plan ahead and give themselves enough time to go through this process.

4) Be Aware of HOA Rules


While they have until 2020 to gain their compliance, Home Owner’s Associations don’t always realize that it usually takes extensive camera work to diagnose each PSL and branch connection on the parcel—and that a large scale multi-unit property may have to be done in sections. This all takes more time, so this is another reason beginning the process early is the best strategy for avoiding penalties.

Read our Compliance Guide for HOAs and Condo Owners for more details.

5) Remember the Positive Outcomes of Compliance

It may be frustrating to deal with regulations set by your city, county and EBMUD but it’s helpful to remember that sewer compliance is ensuring we all have clean drinking water and a cleaner Bay for years to come. This program is not just another way to tax homeowners. The processes and regulations around sewer laterals protect us from the environmental realities of living in large cities and how it all intersects with our old plumbing systems.

Interested in learning more about how sewage systems affect the environment? Read our Eco-Friendly Plumbing Tips.

Choose a Sewer Expert You Can Trust

If you are working through obtaining PSL compliance, it’s important to work with experts you trust to provide sound advice and superior services.

Pipe Spy has been solving plumbing problems others can’t since 1998. We provide affordable sewer inspections that will get you on your way. Plus, the paid sewer camera inspection fee will be credited toward any repairs or replacements needed after completing the inspection.

For more information on our sewer inspection or repair options, explore our services or get in touch with us to request a free quote.