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Am I allowed to divert rainwater runoff into my building sewer?

The City of Pacifica does not allow rainwater runoff into the Sanitary Sewer System because of the added cost of treating this water with sewage. The City has a separate drainage system specifically for runoff.

Am I allowed to drain my swimming pool into the sewer system?

Yes, you are required to do so, but please contact the sewer department before you do so (650)738-4660. 
cannot drain your pool into the street or storm drains.

Do I need a backflow prevention device?

If the elevation of the shower drain, bathtub drain or toilet, for instance, is lower than the elevation of the next upstream manhole cover of the public sewer, then you need a sewer blackflow prevention device. A backflow prevention device can be installed on your sewer lateral to reduce the likelihood of sewage entering your home or business through low lying plumbing fixtures when there's a blockage in the lateral or public main.

How do I prevent sewer backing up from a main sewer to my hillside home?

All homes located on hills are subject to flooding if the sewer line in the street plugs below the house and above the down stream manhole. Due to the hilly terrain in Pacifica, we have many homes in this condition. Generally the homes at the bottom of the hills are the most vulnerable because the plugs are most likely to occur in the area where the sewer main levels out. We recommend removing your building clean-out cap (not the concrete cover of clean-out box) for emergency overflow purpose.

How do I report a sewer spill?

Call Dispatch as soon as possible, at 650-738-7314 to report the sewer spill

How do I set up an inspection date and time with a City Inspector?

You may contact an Inspector by calling the City of Pacifica’s Wastewater Division (Mon-Fri) at (650) 738-7472. You

must call at least 24 hours in advance of back-filling the pipe.

If my sewer lateral needs to be repaired over the weekend, may I repair it without a permit?

You may repair your building sewer on an emergency basis without a permit. You must purchase a permit the following Monday and leave the new sewer lateral uncovered until a City Inspector inspects the job.

What are my responsibilities as a homeowner regarding building sewer repair and replacement?

The City of Pacifica’s Sewer Maintenance Ordinance Section 6-13.602 states it shall be the responsibility of the property owner to perform all required maintenance, repairs and replacement of the sewer lateral in accordance with the following requirements:

(a) The sewer lateral shall be kept free from roots, grease deposits, and other solids, which may impede or obstruct the flow.

(b) All joints shall be watertight and all pipes shall be sound.

(c) The sewer lateral pipe shall be free of any structural defects such as fractures, cracks, breaks, openings, or missing portions.

(d) All cleanouts shall be securely sealed with a proper cap or approved overflow device at all times.

(e) There shall be no non-sanitary sewer connections to the sewer lateral or to any plumbing that connects to the sewer lateral.

(f) All maintenance, repair or replacement shall conform to current City standards and specifications.

What is a building sewer?

Building sewer shall mean the extension from the building drain to the public sewer or other place of disposal. (Ordinance section 6-10.104.)

What might be the reason for my building sewer backing up?

1) Roots from trees may follow the moisture in the ground and find their way into cracked or leaking joints in the pipe.

2) Joints may fail over time and cause the inside of the pipe to lose flow area. Debris such as rocks or paper towels may cause a blockage.

3) Grease from cooking oils or soaps may settle in poorly sloped sewer laterals or behind failed joints.

4) There may be a deterioration of the pipe integrity due to age or poor backfill materials used during construction.

What should I do if my building sewer backs up?

The location of the stoppage should be located and a plumber called if one is needed. If the stoppage is identified as being the City’s responsibility, then you may call the City of Pacifica’s Public Works Dept. during normal hours at (650) 738-3760. During off hours and the weekend, please call the Pacifica Police dispatch non-emergency number at (650) 738-7314. If sewage is still flowing out of your clean-out when you are not using any water, the main sewer may actually be backing up and not your building sewer . In this case, call the City immediately and we will unplug the sewer.

What types of pipe repair and replacement can I use?

You may dig up to repair your building sewer by traditional methods such as by hand or with a backhoe. You may also use trenchless pipe repair. In this method, 4” polyethylene pipe is pulled through the old pipe leaving a brand new building sewer within the old building sewer. Trenchless pipe repair costs less than traditional methods if your building sewer is deep in the ground. It is helpful as well when you do not wish to disturb your yard or driveway.

What types of sewer pipe are allowed and what must be the inside diameter of the pipe?

A minimum diameter of 4” is required in your new building sewer. Types of sewer pipe allowed are:


1) PVC SDR 35

2) ABS schedule 40

3) Polyethylene (PE) SDR 17


When using ABS pipe it may only be used inside the property line and not beyond.

Where can I find a plumbing contractor to perform this work?

You may find plumbing contractors in the Yellow Pages of the phone directory or the City of Pacifica Business Directory. City recommends that you obtain quotations from more than one contractor.

Where can I find a plumbing contractor to unplug my building sewer?

You may find plumbing contractors in the Yellow Pages of the phone directory or the City of Pacifica Business Directory. The City recommends that you obtain quotations from more than one contractor.

Where do I obtain a permit for this job and what type of permit do I need?

A Building permit will be needed to repair or replace your building sewer. If you will be repairing or replacing your building sewer to the main sewer and work will be performed in a public right-of-way, such as a street or sidewalk, an Encroachment permit will also be required. A drawing of the work to be performed is required upon purchasing your permit. However, if you plan to remove and replace the building sewer in the existing location a drawing is not required.

Where does my responsibility as a homeowner end and the City’s begin?

The City of Pacifica’s Sewer Maintenance Ordinance Section 6-9.02 states the homeowner is responsible for maintenance and repair of the sewer lateral from the structure to the City's main sewer.

Why do I need to televise and/or repair my building sewer if I am selling my home or remodeling ($50,000 or more) or adding any plumbing fixtures (i.e., new bathroom) or changing water service (change of meter size or adding second meter)?

A homeowner is required to televise and/or repair their building sewer when any of the following occur, requiring a Sewer Lateral Compliance Certificate.

  • Transfer of property ownership.
  • When there is a remodel or addition that costs $50,000 or greater.
  • When adding any plumbing fixtures
  • When a change in water service is requested (change of meter size or adding a second meter)

The video inspection is the opportunity to bring the building sewer up to code and receive a Sewer Lateral Compliance Certificate. An comparable example of this would be when you wish to repair your windows and for the repair to be up to code you must install double-pane windows for energy conservation.