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Sewer - FAQs

Municipal Code Reference
Title VIII, Chapter 2, Article 13 of the City’s Municipal Code provides that the user shall be responsible for clearing all stoppages and maintaining flow in the side sewer (consisting of the House Lateral and the House Sewer, see diagram on reverse side), in accordance with the following provisions:

A. Stoppages or other maintenance and repairs required in the House Sewer shall be the responsibility of the User;

B. The User shall be responsible for cleaning stoppages in the entire length of the House Lateral. If the stoppage cannot be removed by the User or plumber hired by the User, by rodding or other routine cleaning methods, the City will attempt to clear the stoppage through the street cleanout, [also known as property line cleanout] if one exists. If a street cleanout does not exist, the User shall be responsible for installing one. If the stoppage is found to be caused by grease, rags, or other foreign matter contributed by the User, or if in fact it is found that no stoppage exists, the User shall pay the City costs incurred. If more than one User is served by a single
side sewer, the cost will be divided equally among the Users. If the stoppage is found to be caused by a broken pipe or other structural failure [of the House Lateral], necessary repairs will be made by the City at no charge to the User.

What is a Side Sewer?

A Side Sewer is the pipe that carries the wastewater from the house to the sanitary sewer main line in the street. Every building receiving sewer service from the City of Milpitas (City) has at least one Side Sewer.

The Side Sewer is divided into two sections, the House Lateral (public side) and the House Sewer (private side). The House Lateral (public side) is the section from the main line to the property line. The House Sewer (private side) is the section from the property line to the building, including the property line cleanout (if one exists).

What is a Sewer Main Line?

A Sewer Main line is a utility pipe that carries wastewater from the connected laterals to the wastewater treatment plant (via sewer force or gravity main).

Does the City fix sewer lines on private property (House Sewer)?

No. The area between the property line and the house (House Sewer) is the responsibility of the property owner and must be repaired or serviced by the owner or designated service personnel.

Does the City fix sewer lines on the public side (House Lateral)?

Yes. If there is a Property Line Cleanout, the City will conduct a Closed-Circuit Television Video (CCTV) evaluation of the pipe. Any structural defects such as a collapsed pipe, major offsets, or any other structural deficiencies that will create a blockage of >20% in the flow capacity of the line will be assessed for repair.

Can I get the City to install a sewer cleanout if I do not have one?

No. Sewer cleanouts belong to the property owner. It is the responsibility of the property owner to install a property line cleanout.

Do I need a permit to repair my Side Sewer?

Yes. A permit is required to repair the Side Sewer. A city engineer will inspect the lateral to validate that the work was performed according to code. If you need guidance on policies or procedures, please contact the Engineering Department at 408-586-3300.

What is an SSO?

A sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) is a condition in which untreated sewage is discharged from a sanitary sewer into the environment prior to reaching sewage treatment facilities. Most sewage spills are relatively small and can be stopped and cleaned up quickly, but left unattended they can cause health hazards, damage to homes and businesses, and threaten the environment, local waterways, and beaches.