NEW in Summer 2011: Sanitary Sewer System Smoke Testing 


Contact the Public Works, Streets & Utilities Division's 24 hour hotline at (510) 981-6620.  City forces will respond to reported sewer emergency calls in one hour.

The City is responsible for maintaining City owned sewer mains and the lower sewer laterals. The lower lateral is the sewer lateral from the sewer main in the street to the cleanout normally located behind the street curb. The maintenance, repair, or replacement of the upper sewer lateral, which is usually 4 inches in diameter, from the cleanout to the private property dwelling is the responsibility of the property owner.


The City of Berkeley provides wastewater collection and conveyance services to City customers. A large portion of the City's sewer system that has not been upgraded or replaced in the last 20 years is between 50 and 100 years old and is generally in a deteriorated condition. During intense, brief storms, flows in the sewer system can swell 5-10 times the dry weather sewer flows because of storm water infiltration. Cracks and open joints in the pipes allow rainwater and groundwater into the sewer system. This can result in overflows of diluted sewage and potential public health hazards. A Cease and Desist Order issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) on March, 1986 required that cities eliminate untreated sewage overflows.

jsj300A massive long term Capital Improvement Program for sewer replacement and rehabilitation was implemented in the fall of 1987. The mandated compliance plan was developed to comply with the Cease and Desist Order. The City is in the 18th year of a 30 year compliance plan. The objectives of the program are to eliminate the overflow conditions, increase sewer carrying capacity, and to upgrade and replace the components of the sewer collection system. The City has completed over 159 sewer construction projects as of July 2005 and has replaced or rehabilitated approximately 50 percent of the City's sewer system.  Yet there is still much more work in the long term sewer management plan to be done. This includes development and implementation of a private lateral policy to address the inspection and replacement of faulty sewers on private property.  The long term Sewer Program is the City's largest capital improvement program and is financed entirely through sewer service charges.

Information on the locations of sewer projects planned, or currently under construction, or recently awarded construction projects that will start in the near future, and projects being advertised for bid may be obtained by calling the Public Works, Engineering Division at (510) 981-6400.