Wastewater Service Laterals: The Most Neglected Sewer Pipes

Lateral Ownership, Issues, Regulatory Drivers, and Repair Solutions.

Lateral Lining… the Versatile and Cost-Effective Rehabilitation Choice.

By: Michelle Beason, PE, National Plant Services, Inc.

In the United States, there is estimated to be over 800,000 miles of sewers that serve the public, and an additional 500,000 miles of private sewer laterals that connect businesses and residences to the public sewers1. These critical pipelines are located under public streets and through private properties to safely transport wastewater for treatment, reuse, and disposal.

Public agencies and cities that own the public sewers are required to maintain and inspect these sewers on a regular basis, making timely repairs as needed. However, service laterals have long been ignored and/or overlooked by many agencies due to the historically private nature of the ownership of most laterals. In addition, public funding has typically been prioritized to maintain and repair the larger public sewers, many that are reaching the end of their remaining useful life (RUL). Private owners often don’t even realize that they own their sewer laterals, and will not even think about them until there is a problem with their lateral, or until they are forced to make repairs by the public sewer owner.

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