Sewer Lateral Ownership


Carpinteria Sanitary District owns and maintains approximately 42 linear miles of main sewer and associated infrastructure within its service area. We also own and maintain certain sewer “laterals”. A lateral is the portion of the sewer pipeline serving your home or business that is located between the property line and the main sewer.

Property owners are responsible for maintenance and repair of “building sewers”. The building sewer, sometimes referred to as the upper lateral,  is the section of the sewer pipeline between the building and the property line.

It is the responsibility of the property owner to install a clean-out at the property line to allow the District to maintain the lateral. Maintenance activities include inspection of lateral sewers using CCTV camera equipment, cleaning, de-rooting and necessary structural repairs. When the District, or a developer, constructs a main sewer it generally includes installation of lateral sewers to the property line. The homeowner or developer is required to construct the property line cleanout and the building sewer. If a cleanout was not constructed at the time of connection, the current owner will be required to complete this work to facilitate maintenance of the lateral sewer.

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 building sewer, the lateral sewer or the public main. If this occurs, call the Carpinteria Sanitary District at (805) 684-7214 or after business hours at (805) 451-7809.

District staff will come out to inspect the public sewer main and the sewer lateral, if accessible, free of charge. If a problem is found within the public main or the lateral, it will be repaired as soon as possible. If the public main and lateral are found to be clear, the property owner will be informed that the blockage is in the building sewer. In this case, the property owner is responsible for maintenance or repair.

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

How do I proceed with a building sewer problem?

If the sewer problem is found to be in the building sewer, the property owner can hire a plumbing contractor to make repairs or, if equipped, can make repairs themselves.   Seek out a licensed plumber with good references.  If you plan to hire a contractor, we recommend getting estimates from more than one company.

Before any work is begun, a permit is required from the District. Once you are aware of a problem with your building sewer, it should be repaired as soon as possible. Sewers 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 building 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 accessing USA online at, 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.

Annual Sewer Service Charges



Low Pressure Surcharge