Private sewer lateral ownership delayed |

Private sewer lateral ownership delayed

Responding to public concern and criticism, the North Tahoe Public Utility District board of directors voted last week to delay the implementation of Ordinance 371, which shifts the responsibility for the entire sewer lateral to the respective property owners.

The ordinance was originally slated to come into effect on Jan. 8, however the board decided at their most recent meeting, held at the North Tahoe Conference Center on Jan. 10, to delay the complete transfer of ownership until May 1.

“[The public] brought up good points,” said board President Lane Lewis in a phone interview Tuesday. “The good thing about our board, we listen to the public.”

District staff will use this time to research testing methods and compare North Tahoe’s ordinance to other local agencies, such as the South Tahoe Public Utility District, that have also enacted such ordinances.

“We wanted to look at some of the other agencies and look at their ordinances to see if there’s anything we need to add to ours,” Lewis said.

Ordinance 371 amended the ownership of sewer laterals, holding individual property owners responsible for the entire sewer lateral up to the sewer main. Under the ordinance, property owners are required to conduct any necessary testing, repair or replacement of their lateral.

The district’s board first discussed the lateral ordinance in July 2007, reacting to the state’s Waste Discharge Requirements which call for stricter reporting of sanitary sewer overflows.

Under the state requirements, the district must report any spill caused by a blockage in a publicly-owned sewer pipe. If the district maintains ownership of the sewer laterals, the public agency will be held liable for any spill in the lateral even if it was caused by the homeowner.

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