The proposed changes to the sewer system ordinance are three-fold:

  • The owner of a property with a sewer spill is responsible for stopping the spill immediately and will be subject to fines and penalties if inspections and repairs are not made in a timely manner.
  • Prior to the sale of a property, the property owner must have the sewer lateral inspected by an authorized inspector, make any needed repairs, and submit an inspection form to verify compliance (similar to what is now done with termite inspection). This requirement benefits home buyers and yet the seller retains the option of transferring the responsibility of any needed repairs to the buyer in the terms of the sale. The buyer must have the inspection completed within 90 days of close of sale. (The property is exempted if the lateral was constructed within 10 years or passed inspection within the past five years.)
  • Private sanitary sewer collection systems and pumps (at apartment buildings, homeowner associations and businesses) must pass inspection every 10 years. Their pipelines must be cleaned every two to five years depending on size. Privately-owned pump stations must pass inspection every one to five years depending on size.

These proposed amendments strengthen the existing ordinance and are expected to be approved by the Santa Cruz City Council in February 2018.  If adopted in February: the new spill procedures would be implemented in March 2018; the private sewer system and pump requirements would begin in the spring of 2018; and the lateral inspection upon sale of property requirements would begin in February 2019.