Sewer Repairs
Sanitary Sewer Repairs - Information for Property Owners


“Who is responsible for sanitary sewer repairs?”

Central San maintains all public sewer mains within our 145 square mile service area within Central Contra Costa County. This includes over 1500 miles of pipelines, which are generally 8-inch inside diameter or greater, and located within public streets or easements dedicated for Central San’s use.

Each home or commercial building has a separate connection to the public sewer main called a sewer lateral. It is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain and repair their own sewer lateral up to and including the point of connection with the public sewer main. This includes both the portion on private property and the portion located beneath the sidewalk and street up to and including the point where the lateral connects to the public main.

“How do I find out where the problem is?”

When a sewer backup or other problem occurs, in most cases it will not be obvious whether the problem area is in the sewer lateral or the public main. If this occurs, call Central San at (925) 933-0990 24 hours/day.

Central San will come out to inspect the public sewer main free of charge. If a problem is found within the public main, it will be fixed as soon as possible. If the public main is found to be clear, the property owner will be informed that the blockage is probably in the sewer lateral. In this case, the property owner is responsible for maintenance or repair.

Caution: When trying to locate a sewer problem, never open manholes or other Central San structures. Due to potential hazards, only Central San personnel are authorized to open and inspect these structures.

“How do I proceed with a sewer lateral problem?”

If the sewer problem is found to be in the sewer lateral, the property owner can hire a contractor to make repairs or, if equipped, can make repairs themselves. Contractors can be researched under listings such as “Plumbing Drain & Sewer Cleaning” or “Sewer Contractors”. If you plan to hire a contractor, we recommend getting estimates from more than one company.

Before any work is begun, a Central San repair permit is required (even for repairs on private property). More information on how to get a repair permit is available by calling (925) 229-7371, or see our sewer repairs/replacements/additions webpage. Once you are aware of a sewer lateral problem, it should be repaired as soon as possible. Sewer laterals which leak or overflow are a public health risk and can damage the environment.

“How can I avoid damage to other utilities?”

When digging to make sewer repairs, it is very important to know where other utilities are located so that damage can be avoided. Most utility companies belong to a locating service called Underground Service Alert (USA).

By calling USA at 811 or 1-800-227-2600 48 hours before you dig, the utility companies will be notified that you are planning to dig and will come out, free of charge, to mark the location of their utility lines.

“What permits are required for repairs in a street?”

If a sewer lateral repair involves digging in a street or other public right-of-way, an encroachment permit will also be required. Encroachment permits are available from the agency that maintains the street. In most cases, this is the city. Call your city for more information.

Sewer Lateral Repair Checklist

  1. Obtain a Central San Repair Permit by visiting our office at 5019 Imhoff Place in Martinez
  2. Call Underground Service Alert 48 hours before you dig at 811 or 1-800-227-2600
  3. Obtain an Encroachment Permit for repairs outside of the property line from your city 
  4. Questions? Call Central San’s permit counter (925) 229-7371or e-mail us at