The environmental threats to our watershed posed by sewer spills and the improper disposal of toxic materials are problems we can solve together. Your district is executing a comprehensive plan to repair our aging collection system, but we depend on you to not only care for the private sewer pipes on your property, but to be mindful of what you put down the drain. Here’s what you can do to help:
Inspect and Maintain Your Sewer Pipe
Private sewer laterals, which connect homes and businesses to the District’s public sewer system, are responsible for about 50% of all sewer spills! These pipes are the responsibility of the property owners and are often damaged by roots, ground settling, construction work, and just plain old age. Damaged pipes allow large volumes of water to flow into the collection system, which can overwhelm pipes and the treatment plant, leading to dangerous spills. To avoid cracks and leaks here are steps you can take when you buy a home or encounter periodic plumbing backup problems:
A TV or Video inspection will show defects in the lateral, such as cracks, root intrusion, open or offset joints and sagging. Along with determining the potential for inflow of storm water, these defects can clog the sewer and cause back ups and overflow into your home. Water or air testing also will show defects, but will not reveal the type or location of the problem.
Laterals can be cleaned and maintained with rooter type equipment or repairs can be made by trenching or with newer technologies that don’t require extensive digging such as “lining” and “pipe bursting.” Use a licensed and insured plumbing contractor who can provide advice, inspection and repair services. All repairs must comply with District standards and be inspected by a District Inspector. Click Sewer Installations and Extensions for information on all requirements and procedures or call the district at (415) 259-2949. You can verify contractor licensing and get tips about hiring a contractor by visiting www.cslb.ca.gov or by calling (800) 321-2752.
Tip: Make sure your outside drains and gutters flow into a storm drain and not into your sewer lateral.
Put Fats, Oil and Grease in the Trash, Not Down the Drain
Fats, oils and grease (FOG) are a major cause of clogs and spills in household and restaurant plumbing as well as the public sewer lines. You can help by putting these items in the trash instead of pouring them down the drain. Simply use a paper towel to wipe FOG from cooking utensils, dishes and pots and put the towel in the trash.
Keep Hazardous Waste, Pesticides and Medications Out of Drains
Wastewater treatment plants cannot remove hazardous waste, pesticides or medications from wastewater. When these materials are put down the toilet or drain, they end up in the San Francisco Bay!
You can dispose of common household hazardous waste, including paint, solvents, pesticides, motor oil, antifreeze, and battery fluids, at no charge by taking them to the Marin Household Hazardous Waste Facility located at 565 Jacoby St. (Off Anderson Drive) in San Rafael. The facility is open Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, phone (415) 485-6806.
Prescription and other medications can be disposed of at most drug stores.