Sewer laterals are the pipes that connect your house to the main sewer line. It is important for them to be in good condition for 2 basic reasons:

  1. To keep sewage in so that it can be safely transported to ALCOSAN, our regional sewer treatment plant. Although there are some perks of a leaky sewer lateral (fertilizer), it generally is not considered good. One sign that your lateral might not be in great condition is spots of lush green vegetation in your yard.
  2. To keep stormwater and groundwater out. I&I (Inflow & Infiltration) is the lingo in the stormwater/sewer world. I&I is a large part of why our sewers are overwhelmed in rain events. Infiltration is when rain and groundwater enters cracked sewer pipes, including laterals. Inflow is when stormwater and groundwater enter through downspouts and catch basins. During wet weather, I&I can add as much as 3,000 gallons of stormwater per person per day to the sewer system. This is quite the burden on an already overwhelmed system.

So how can you help? Keeping your laterals in good condition is key, and, in most communities, homeowners are responsible for the line from the house to the curb. (Each community is different though, so check your plumbing code!) Sewer pipes have an average design life of 50 years. Since so many homes in the area are older than that it’s important to keep an eye on your laterals.

NMRWA is hosting a educational session to help homeowners understand their responsibilities and options when it comes to repairing their pipes. Join us May 23rd at 6:00pm at 900 Wood Street, 2nd Floor, in downtown Wilkinsburg for Water Talks: Laterals & Lagers. Drinks and light refreshments provided.

Learn more about this infrastructure here.