Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Triggers that require a PSL inspection and test?

  • 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 legalizing or constructing ADU, size change of a water meter or install of fire sprinklers, fixture count change, or District manager request.
  • When a property is sold or has any transfer of property title. Note: There are 2 start times for the 180 days compliance division; 1) Is notice of repair, 2) Is the date of close of escrow which whatever comes first will trigger the 180 days compliance.
  • When a sewage overflow, malfunction or other public health threat occurs at a property as determined by the SD2 staff. 
  • 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. 

When did the PSL Ordinance become effective?

The PSL Ordinance went into effect on August 4, 2018. 

Who is affected by the PSL ordinance? 

All residents with a property in the Sanitary District No.2 area. The SD2 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. 

​How do I test a Private Sewer Lateral (PSL)? 

 You can have a test conducted. The test should be witnessed by the District’s authorized representative(s) to verify that all Private Sewer Lateral associated with the parcel pass a pressure test and comply with the ordinance, district standards and details and the municipal code.
There are two types of tests:
  • Air pressure test: The air test pressure in the private sewer lateral shall be between four (4) psi maximum and three and half (3.5) psi minimum at the beginning of the test. For all lateral pipe diameters there shall be no pressure drop over 15 minutes test period. Any leaks discovered shall be repaired.
  • Water pressure test: The water testing of the private sewer lateral shall be with a riser at least eight (8) feet in height from the crown of the sewer at the upstream Manhole or cleanout or from the surface of ground water, whichever is higher.  For all lateral pipe diameters there shall be no water level drop over one (1) hour test period. Any leaks discovered shall be repaired.
For more information on testing and other standards and specifications, please click here

Do I have to be a licensed contractor to perform work in the Town of Corte Madera? 

In order to perform work for the Town of Corte Madera and Sanitary District No. 2, you have to be a contractor licensed by the State of California. Work on public property, streets, roads and other rights-of-way shall be performed only by duly licensed contractors. To find out how to get a state contractors license, please visit the Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board (CSLB) website.

CSLB has Licensing Classifications. To learn about CSLB licensing classifications, please click here. For your convenience, we have listed our Classification requirements here. 

1. All sewer work requiring shoring shall be performed by a licensed contractor holding an A Classification and/or C-34 Classification.
2. All work on private sewer laterals shall be performed by a licensed contractor holding an A Classification, C-34 Classification, C-36 Classification and/or C-42 Classification.
3. All trench work and pavement repairs within any public right-of-way shall be performed by a licensed contractor holding an A Classification, C-12 Classification, and/or C-34 Classification.
4. All CCTV work and inspection reports shall be performed by a licensed plumber, contractor or technician with a current NASSCO Certification (To learn about their certification training and education, click here).

Property owners may perform private sewer work on their own property. 

For more information on SD2 regulations and other standards and specifications, please click here

What is NASSCO?

NASSCO stands for National Association of Sewer Service Companies. NASSCO is an association that brings together professionals dedicated to evaluating and repairing sewers. Our members combine their practical experience and technical expertise in a non-competitive environment to set standards and make sure work is done right.  NASSCO addresses issues quickly while also providing training, networking, and committee participation opportunities. Even one member can make a positive impact on the entire sewer industry.

NASSCO is committed to setting industry standards for the assessment, maintenance and rehabilitation of underground infrastructure, and to assure the continued acceptance and growth of trenchless technologies.

To learn more about NASSCO, please visit their website by clicking here

What is the 180-day extension? 

It is the grace period between the time you have your private sewer lateral (PSL) tested and repaired or replaced if required. Property owners with portions of shared laterals may apply for a one-time, 180-day extension that is intended to assist with additional time to schedule needed repairs or replacements. If you are wondering if this extension can apply to you, please contact our Associate Civil Engineer, Fernanda Stefanick by calling 415-927-5792 or via email at 

Do I need to pass a pressure test to comply with the Private Sewer Lateral (PSL) Ordinance? 

Yes. The only way to test and verify that the PSL is free of leakage is by passing a pressure test.

Do I need a sewer permit for a pressure test? If so, how much does it cost?

Yes. You still need a sewer permit for a pressure test. The cost is $150 per inspection if there is no work to be done on the PSL.  If you already have a sewer permit to do a spot repair or full replacement, the inspection fee is already included in the permit fees.

Is the CCTV a test? 

No. CCTV  standards for closed-circuit television and is an inspection that is necessary in order to verify the condition of the PSL before the actual test is conducted. 

How long is my PSL inspection certification good for? 

For a complete replacement, after passing a pressure test, your PSL inspection certification is good for 10 years. With a previous record of replacement, your PSL is good for 10 years from the date of installation on record. For all others, the PSL inspection certification is good for 3 years. 

If I have a shared lateral do I need to inspect and test my PSL or am I exempt?

Yes. You still need to inspect and test your PSL. However, portions of shared laterals may apply for a one-time 180-day extension to assist owners with additional time to schedule needed repairs or replacement. If you are wondering if this extension can apply to you, please contact our Associate Civil Engineer, Fernanda Stefanick by calling 415-927-5792 or via email at 

My property is part of a Homeowners Association (HOA) and the HOA is responsible to maintain my PSL. What do I need to do?

Inform the HOA that your PSL needs inspection and ask them if they already submitted the video and tested the sewer line. If so, they need to provide you with a copy of the letter that states that the HOA is in compliance with the PSL ordinance. You should then submit a copy of the letter to Sanitary District No. 2 (SD2).
If the HOA did not inspect and test the sewer line, the HOA will need to do it and submit it to SD2 for review. The HOA should also send you a letter stating that it is in the process of sending a video and testing the sewer line and that it is also working with SD2 for compliance. You should submit a copy of that letter to SD2.

If I only need to install a backwater prevention device do I still need a sewer permit for the installation? If so, how much does it cost?

Yes, you still need a sewer permit. The cost is $300 (When filling out the sewer permit application, make sure you say that the permit is for a spot repair) and the permit fee includes the approval of the work and inspection fees for the test.

Do I need to do a compaction test if the Town is doing a paving project on the street?

Yes. It’s also part of the revised encroachment permit so it should be standard on all projects in the right-of-way.

Is the property owner responsible for the connection to the District's sewer main (wye, tee, tap pipe fittings, etc.)? 

Yes. The property owner is responsible for the connection to the District's sewer main. "Lateral sewer" (sometimes referred to as "lateral," "sewer lateral," "side sewer," "sewer service lateral" "building sewer" or "private sewer lateral ") means a privately owned sewer which conveys sewage from a building to the district's collection system, including all pipes, fittings, and appurtenances, from the outer face of the building served to the connection into the district's sewer main, including the connection itself. To learn more about definitions related to the PSL ordinance, please click here

Were homeowners ever given an opportunity to discuss, debate or vote on the 2018 Ordinance that will cost each of us thousands of dollars?

The California Regional Water Quality Control Board was very insistent about requiring the new PSL policies and procedures. Given the 2017 events the District was forced to accept and enforce these new terms, as there wasn’t much of an alternative. 

Since every home and property owner pays a portion of their property taxes towards the Sewer District, why isn’t that money being used to pay for both the upper and lower lateral pipes as well as the inspections?

In general, the lower lateral is in the Town’s right of way, whereas the upper lateral is on private property, which adds complications. In addition, the length and cost of lower laterals are fairly consistent across the District, whereas upper laterals can vary significantly. For example, most lower laterals are 20-25 feet, whereas upper laterals can vary from 10-400 feet and thus the costs would not be equitable to all rate payers if upper laterals were included. Also, it’s worth noting that the inclusion of the lower lateral is part of a pilot program for this year and will be revisited in spring of next year whether to continue the program. 

​FAQ's related to Capital  Improvement Projects (CIP)

What is the purpose of this sewer project?

This sanitary sewer project is designed to improve efficiency and operational integrity of the sewer collection system, reduce inflow & infiltration (I&I), reduce Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) risk and reduce the need for staff maintenance. The existing sewer mains consist of vitrified clay pipe (VCP) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes. 

How do I know when work will take place in front of my home or business?

The contractor will pass out door hangers at least 72 hours before work for the project is scheduled to begin on a new street. The contractor will also place “No Parking” signs where work will be taking place.

Will the contractor close my road and prevent me from accessing my home or business ?

No, the contractor is required to keep access open to the neighborhood at all times with minor traffic delays. Emergency vehicles will always have access through the work site. On some streets, there may be closures to through traffic and require a detour, while on other streets where an alternate route is not possible, the contractor will have to leave one lane of traffic open and have alternating traffic control. 

Will I have access to my driveway during working hours?

The contractor will do their best to keep access open to all driveways during working hours Monday – Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm. There may be some points where they must work directly in front of a driveway and providing access will take some time. Please speak with the contractor’s staff to coordinate access to your home.

Will the contractor shut off my sewer service?

No, the contractor will knock on your door and request you do not use any appliances that use a lot of water before work begins, but your sewer service will remain on while work is being conducted.

When do I need to pressure test and/or replace my upper lateral?

Homeowners do not need to do any work until the Sanitary District’s sewer project is complete. Once the project is complete, the District will send a follow up letter to all residents giving 180 days to pressure test, and if necessary, replace their upper lateral.

Why were we, the homeowners, not consulted or informed sooner about htis Rehabilitation Project as well as about the "2018 Private Sewer Lateral Ordinance for Sanitary District No. 2" that triggered the project? 

The new private sewer lateral (PSL) ordinance was discussed publicly at numerous Town Council/Sanitary Board events and a dedicated PSL public workshop was held in January 2019, see link to presentation materials and video recordings here. Public Works appreciates your feedback about the construction project and will strive to improve communications moving forward. The letter that you recently received provides approximately 9-10 months for homeowners to complete the required pressure test or replace their PSL’s. We felt this was ample time but if property owners have a hardship with meeting this deadline we are willing to work with them on a case by case basis and are open to possible time extensions, where justified.

"Did you feel that 10-days notice was sufficient time to make a decision that involved so many residents being forced to pay thousands of dollars each for work we neither asked for or had any say in?"

The PSL ordinance requires that each property owner pass a PSL pressure test when the fronting property is tied to a capital improvement project. This requirement was ordered by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board as a measure to reduce the potential for only partially treated sewage entering the bay. Unfortunately, the District was forced to accept these more aggressive terms given our sanitary network was unable to perform during the peak storms in 2017. I recognize the receipt of the letter and information of the PSL carries a real financial impact but the decision to “opt-in” and save several thousand dollars when compared to the “opt-out” was viewed internally as an easy decision. 
If you have a different view on the weight of the “opt-in” versus “opt-out” decision, please share so we can better understand your view point. 

Since the Ordinance was presumably written in 2018, were public hearings held? Were all the residents affected invited by mail to attend?  Were all residents informed that we’d be financially responsible for our own sewer lateral repairs, if and 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.”

Yes, a public workshop was held on January 29, 2019, see workshop video and materials here. Information about the workshop was posted to the Town website and the Town newsletter. At the workshop the financial responsibility was a key topic of discussion including the four “triggers.”