2018 Private Sewer Lateral (PSL) Ordinance for Corte Madera and Sanitary District No. 2 (SD2)


The purpose of this ordinance is to provide for the operation and maintenance of Sanitary District No. 2’s (SD2) wastewater conveyance and treatment facilities in a more safe, reliable and serviceable manner.

In 2017, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board ordered SD2 to fix damaged and deficient sanitary sewer pipes. Many pipes are in need of repair to prevent the infiltration of rainwater and groundwater, which can overwhelm the wastewater collection system and treatment plant, leading to sanitary sewer overflows in the community or discharges of partially treated wastewater into the San Francisco Bay. Improperly maintained private sewer laterals also lead to raw sewage spilling into residential areas.  

The SD2 Board adopted Ordinance No.45 at its June 4, 2018 meeting amending of and requiring inspection of private sewer laterals when any one of the four (4) specific triggers are met. 

Protecting Our Sewer System

The ordinance has two critical public health and safety goals: 
  • To improve efficiency and operational integrity of the sewer collection system and the wastewater treatment plan.
  • To enhance environmental quality and specifically preserve the quality of our creeks and Bay.

Who is affected? 

The Sanitary District No.2 area covers properties in the Town of Corte Madera, small portions of the surrounding communities of Larkspur and Tiburon and some adjacent unincorporated County land.

Effective Dates

All requirements of the PSL Ordinance are in effect as of August 4, 2018.

When is an inspection required?

  1. When a property owner submits a building permit application for improvements valued at $50,000 or more over a cumulative three-year period, or when the permit improvements involve new or modified plumbing. 
  2. When a property is sold or has any transfer of property title. Note: There are two start times for the 180 day compliance division. The first is the notice to repair. the second is the date of the close of escrow. Whichever one comes first will trigger the 180 day compliance requirement. 
  3. When a sewage overflow, malfunction or another public health threat occurs at a property as determined by the SD2 staff. Health and Safety basis for requiring a private sewer lateral inspection.
  4. When the sewer main is being improved or the road above a resident’s sewer lateral is being paved as part of a capital improvement project led by the Town of Corte Madera, Sanitary District No. 2 or other government agency. 

Complying with the Sewer Lateral Ordinance

Generally, to receive a Certificate of Compliance, the following steps will be taken:
  • Verify with Sanitary District No. 2 if the private sewer lateral is exempt (see exemptions section).
  • For private sewer laterals that are not exempt, hire a licensed contractor to inspect your private sewer lateral. Commonly this consists of a closed-circuit television (CCTV) inspection and have a Private Sewer Lateral Inspection Form completed by a certified licensed plumber allowing for the contractor and the Sanitary District No. 2 to visually see the condition of you private sewer lateral, including instances of offset joints, root intrusion, and cracked or broken pipe segments which would prevent your private sewer lateral from passing the pressure test. 
  • Submit the Sewer Lateral Inspection Report, a DVD of the sewer lateral, and required payment to the Department of Public Works, who will review and determine whether further action is required to bring the PSL within compliance. At the property owner’s discretion they may forego this review process if they choose to apply for a sewer permit for replacing the entire private sewer lateral.
  • Note: A copy of the CCTV inspection is not sufficient proof for obtaining a multi-year Letter of Compliance. Certificate of Compliance is only granted after passing a pressure test.
  • If necessary, have your Private Sewer Lateral repaired or replaced. If full replacement is needed and you are a low income household financial assistance may be available. Schedule an inspection with Sanitary District No. 2 to witness the pressure testing procedures administered by your licensed contractor per the District guidelines. 
  • If your lateral does not pass the pressure test, additional work will be required and a subsequent pressure test must be rescheduled with Sanitary District No. 2 which will necessitate another inspection Fee.
  • If your lateral is free of leaks, a Certificate of Compliance will be sent to you shortly thereafter.

Sewer Lateral Exemptions from the Ordinance Triggers

  • Prior Repair of Sewer Lateral - An owner otherwise required to perform a private sewer lateral inspection under this subsection shall not be required to perform such an inspection if the owner (or the owner's predecessor-in-interest) has repaired his or her property's private sewer lateral and passed a pressure test within the three (3) years prior to the date of the application for a building permit, listing the property for sale, change of title or capital improvement project, unless reasonable cause is made apparent to District staff that the new lateral is compromised (see ordinance for complete language).
  • Proof of Prior Replacement of a Sewer Lateral - Owner shall provide proof of any prior replacement including passing of a pressure test of a private sewer lateral 10 years or less in age and approved by the District Manager in the form of a certificate, a paid bill or any sufficient documentation that ensures such prior replacement (see ordinance for complete language).
  • Shared Sewer Laterals – Portions of shared laterals may apply for a onetime 180-day extension to assist owners with additional time to schedule needed repairs or replacement.
  • Homeowners' Associations (H.O.A.) Managed Laterals – H.O.A’s may apply for a 3-year blanket approval if a lateral or laterals in the condominium complex are inspected at one time, and approved in accordance with this title by the District.

Sewer Lateral Program Fees

Should repair or replacement be required additional permit fees will be applied to obtain compliance with the ordinance. View the fee schedule for Sanitary District No.2.

Questions and Contact Information

Fernanda Stefanick, Associate Civil Engineer
Department of Public Works
Sanitary District No.2
Phone: (415) 927-5057
Email: fstefanick@tcmmail.org