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Blocked Service Line Policy - Procedure

Description of Need of Policy

The most common occurrence of problems with sewer systems is the blockage of lines. This policy makes the distinction between lines that are properly identified as City mains subject to the City's maintenance of flow, and private service lines (laterals), subject to the property owner's maintenance of flow.


Sanitary sewer maintenance involving clearing of an obstruction with City equipment is to be restricted to maintenance of the sanitary sewer main and not private service lines. A main is generally described as having two or more private connections and is within public right of ways or easements.

Property Owner's Responsibility

The property owner should first call a plumber to inspect the private line from the house to the City's main. If an obstruction is identified or suspected, the plumber should take action to remove it form the line.

If the plumber determines that the blockage is on the City's main, the plumber should then call the Wastewater Collection Department and either remain on-site to describe the findings, or provide enough detail on the telephone that the Department crews can accomplish their work.

The property owner is required to abide by the Sewer Use Ordinance §52.34 and not discharge non-sanitary waste that can cause blockages. This includes items such as rags and disposable diapers.

Even though a portion of the service line is within a public right of way or easement, it is installed for the use of the customer, not the system. Therefore, its maintenance of flow and discharge capacity is the responsibility of the property owner.

The property owner is required to maintain trees in such a manner as to avoid root intrusions in the sewer system. If an obstruction occurs or is suspected, the property owner should employ a qualified plumber to determine the nature of the problem.

The property owner is required to have an approved clean-out both adjacent to the building and at the right of way or easement line.

Plumber's Responsibility

If the obstruction is in the private service line, the plumber is to clear the obstruction.
If the plumber determines that the obstruction is not on the private service line but on the main, the plumber is to contact the Department and remain on-site to provide information to Department crews.

Wastewater Collection Department's Responsibility

The Department will be responsible for maintenance of a clear flow path in the main.

The Department will be responsible for the structural integrity (pipe collapse or breakage) of the service lateral from the main to the right of way/easement/property line. If an easement is not specifically defined, this point will be generally interpreted to be ten feet from the main.

Fees and Costs

Minimum of $25.00 for a service call where the blockage is on the private line and not on the City's main.

Additional Comments

Where the City has determined that there is evidence of a structural defect in a service line, the City will take responsibility for rehabilitation of the structural integrity of the service line.

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