Defining, Understanding Lateral Rehab Options

Part 1 In A Series
By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | April 2011 Vol. 66 No. 4

Rehabilitation of failing sanitary sewer systems is a high priority for many cities in the United States with major projects under way relining and replacing aging and failing mains.

Laterals that connect homes and commercial buildings to sewer main line pipes are an integral element of sanitary sewer infrastructure, yet the condition of laterals in most sewer systems remains largely ignored, even though failing laterals can be responsible for a significant amount of the inflow and infiltration (I&I), leakage and other problems affecting the system.

Yet, maintenance, repairs and rehabilitation of failing laterals lags far behind attention given to sewer main lines.

Several factors are responsible, with the primary reason being the position of most sewer system operators that laterals are not their responsibility, but rather that of the owners of property through which a sewer lateral provides service

For years, dig-and-replace construction was the only method available to repair failing laterals or make point repairs and often today, it still is the only option offered for making repairs, even though trenchless rehabilitation methods provide cost-effective alternatives. In addition to lack of knowledge about the benefits of trenchless lateral rehabilitation, plumbing codes in many areas do not permit their use.

Comprehensive overview
The Lateral Committee of NASSCO (National Association of Sewer Service Companies) is preparing a document that will provide a comprehensive overview of lateral and main-lateral connection repair and sealing technologies.

Larry Kiest, chairperson of the committee, said a primary goal of the group’s work is to develop a document that will provide the operators of sanitary sewer systems and the general public with up-to-date information about lateral renewal and repair options.

“In an effort to seek a viable cost effective solution to one of the most significant contributors to our failing sewer infrastructure,” said Kiest, “technology providers have developed several methods to structurally repair and/or seal lateral pipes and their connection to the main sewer.

“The NASSCO Lateral Committee has agreed to develop educational information for the purpose of advancing these technologies by working with local and state governing health and plumbing boards through education to encourage these agencies to accept these technologies into the code books.”

Many member companies of NASSCO provide these products and services.