Tree lawn, sidewalk buffer, curb strip, nature strip, planting strip, etc. question

That is exactly the right place to call and good advice if this is your problem. However, you may not be responsible for maintaining the pipes all the way to the main line connection OR for maintaining them to your property line.

Houses currently built in our city are required to have a cleanout riser, which is usually situated at the back of the sidewalk or at the back of the curb, depending on the sidewalk plan. There’s a lateral pipe coming into the wye-tee joint of the riser from the house (and that pipe is the property owner’s problem) and there’s a lateral pipe coming out of the joint and going to the main line (and that pipe is the city’s problem). The riser, itself, is the owner’s problem.

So check to see if you have a cleanout. If you do, then there’s a chance that anything to the street side of it is maintained by the city, the county, or their outsource company, even if it’s in the ROW. The permit center or Department of Public Works should be able to tell you who has the responsibility for which pipe, although you may be referred to a municipal utility district or other agency.

In Stockton, the limit of city maintenance for a sewer lateral is shown on Standard Drawing 64 of the City’s Standard Specifications and Plans. I have no idea whether other cities and counties have a similar limit of maintenance nor do I know where it would be written down. This is very much an ‘it depends on the community’ thing.

Here’s hoping that you have a cleanout riser between you and the break, and that the local rules make it their problem.

High rise office building rather than residential.

We were having sewer line problems. The building has three out flow lines they all connect outside the building under the sidewalk. We dug up one section and replaced it. We were not sure if we were going to have to work on the main line after the last T. someone from the city stopped by while the contractor was working on the one section that we knew was bad. He commented that if lthe problem was past the final T call his office because the city would take care of it.

So check with the city.

I’m an engineer for a public water/sewer utility, and I deal with this sort of thing every day. In our region, the municipality owns everything in the right-of-way, which usually extends 5-10 feet beyond the curb line. This means that the municipality generally owns the grass strip between the sidewalk and the curb, as well as the sidewalk itself. (This strip is also referred to as the “snow shelf” or “green belt.”)

In any event, the only way to be sure where the property line is is to review an assessor’s map or other survey.

For water services, there is a “curb stop” valve at the property line, which allows the water utility company to shut off water service to the property. The utility maintains the water main in the street, and the water service up the curb stop, the curb stop itself, along with the water meter at the house. The homeowner is responsible for the copper pipe between the curb stop and the house.

Similarly for sewers, the utility or municipality maintains the sewer main and the sewer laterals up to the property line. The homeowner is responsible for the lateral between the house and the property line. For typical gravity sewer, the sewer main in the street is a minimum of 8 inches in diameter, the sewer laterals in the right-of-way is 6 inches in diameter, and the lateral on private property is typically 4 inches in diameter.

The upshot is that is my area, the municipality would pay to fix the collapsed sewer lateral if the collapsed section was within the right-of-way and not on private property. If the collapsed section was on private property, the homeowner would be responsible for the repair.

For gravity sewers, there is no valve that could be closed to disconnect your house from the sewer main. Sometimes there are check valves known as backflow preventers installed, but they are not designed to isolate a house from the sewer, only to prevent the sewer main from backing up into a house. However, they can also get stuck, and cause a house to back itself up, so they are often more trouble than they are worth. Because the municipality does not want to deal with this trouble, backflow preventers (when they are installed), are generally installed on private property so that the homeowner is responsible for them.

Conversely, that pipe might be somebody else’s problem, even if it is on your property. In this area, the city is responsible for the water pipes up to and including the meter, which is well inside my property. The power company is also responsible for the lines running to the meter, and the phone company is responsible for the wires on their side of the “network interface”. There is probably some similar demarcation for sewer lines, but I don’t know what it is. (Although, at a guess, if you have one of those optional outflow meters that really only businesses get, that meter and everything beyond it probably belong to the sewer people.)

Legal advice is best suited to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

This long without a Devil’s Strip cite. Tsk tsk.