Department of Public Works
Department of Public Works


Effective November 3, 2014
Established October 1, 2006 

To protect the water quality of creeks, watersheds, and the San Francisco Bay, the City of Berkeley Municipal Code (BMC) includes provisions related to the maintenance and repair of private sewer laterals. It is estimated that half the water that enters the City’s sewers during wet weather comes from deficient private sewer laterals (PSLs) and from downspouts and yard area drains that are directly connected to sanitary sewer laterals.  

 Private Sewer Lateral Connection
Private Sewer Later Connection (Double-click on picture to enlarge)

Since October 2006, property owners have been required to obtain a Sewer Lateral Certificate of Compliance (SLC) prior to transfer or sale of property, or before obtaining a building permit for major construction projects such as remodels. The City amended its private sewer lateral ordinance (BMC Chapter 17.24), effective November 3, 2014 to comply with requirements mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and State and Regional Water Boards. Under these requirements, the City’s PSL ordinance must be “no less stringent” than the Regional PSL Ordinance adopted by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), which applies to most of the communities within the EBMUD wastewater service area.

All property owners -- including condominiums and other developments with shared laterals -- are required to obtain a Sewer Lateral Certificate (SLC) under the following conditions:

  1. By close of escrow for the transfer or sale of property (with some exceptions), unless a 6-month extension is granted prior to closing; OR
  2. When obtaining a Building Permit for construction or remodel valued over $60,000; OR
  3. When the City finds that the PSL may be a public nuisance; OR
  4. When a property owner elects to repair or replace their PSL.

In order to obtain a Sewer Lateral Certificate (SLC), all property owners must first obtain a PSL permit and demonstrate the PSL is in satisfactory condition by passing a verification test (CCTV reports to document testing and compliance are no longer accepted), unless the property owner already has a valid SLC or can demonstrate that the PSL was replaced in the last 20 years, as evidenced by a permit signed off by a City Inspector.

After obtaining the permit and passing a required Verification Test, all property owners will be issued a SLC.

PSL Loan Program: the City offers a loan program to assist Berkeley low-income property owners to comply with BMC 17.24 requirements for private sewer laterals. The eligible work funded through the PSL Loan Program is limited to repair or replacement of a private sewer lateral with defects or improper connections that were identified by the City’s smoke testing program ( or came to the City’s attention, resulting from private sewer lateral enforcement  or citations issued, excluding compliance triggers stated in the PSL Program  (BMC 17.24) resulting from transfer of property deed or property renovation of $60,000 or more. See this summary for information about the PSL Loan Program and this list for Required Documentation. For a complete package of application materials, call 510-981-6423 or email

Links to Information and Forms on the updated PSL Oridnance

Berkeley Municipal Code Chapter 17.24 Abatement of Nonconforming/Substandard Sewer Laterals on Private Property  

FACT SHEET on Updated City of Berkeley PSL Ordinance

PSL COMPLIANCE GUIDE for Property Owners, Sellers, Buyers, and Contractors

  1. Private Sewer Lateral Certificate Application
  2. Engineering Permit Application for Private Sewer Lateral
  3. Guidelines for Private Sewer Lateral Verification Testing
  4. Sewer Lateral Extension Deposit Form
  5. Agreement for Time Extension to Obtain a Sewer Lateral Certificate
  6. Application for Exception – Extension of Time for Sewer Lateral Construction
  7. Claim for Refund of Money Paid
  8. Refund Claim Procedures 

To schedule an inspection, see:

You may also call City staff for further information at (510) 981-6423, TDD (510) 981-6903 or send an email to

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Department of Public Works, 2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: Phone: (510) 981-6300
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
TTY: (510) 981-6903