Education Key To Addressing Growing Lateral Issues

Part 3 In An Ongoing Series
By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | December 2010 Vol. 65 No. 12

Kurz does not believe property owners can be expected to maintain the condition of their laterals.

Most property owners do not know what a lateral is, or its function. While a defective lateral may affect the property owners when sewage backs up or the line becomes clogged, hundreds or thousands of failing laterals affect the whole system.

Responsibility
Cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) lining is a primary method available for trenchless lateral rehabilitation. Gil Carroll, director of business development, MaxLiner USA and Applied Felts, Inc., a leader in the CIPP market, agreed that education is of critical importance. He believes the solution ultimately is for property owners to assume responsibility for the condition of laterals on their property.

“Given the political climate surrounding government mandates, this does not seem to be the most expeditious solution to the problem,” said Carroll “First of all, funding is a major challenge facing the underground construction industry. Any legislation designed to enforce lateral maintenance by municipalities would most likely come in the form of an unfunded mandate. This action would drive a deeper wedge into the issue.”

Carroll said cities who say they don’t “own” laterals on private property but rehabilitate them, typically do so out of necessity.

“It is not something municipalities would choose to do in an ideal situation,” he said. “In our experience, the cities who take this proactive approach are plugging the dam before it bursts. If property owners were made responsible for lateral rehabilitation, and if these small diameter pipes were maintained properly, municipalities would not be involved. But the reality is that laterals contribute to I/I and affect the entire wastewater infrastructure; therefore, in order to maintain appropriate efficiency levels cities are forced into this situation.”

Carroll said the best path toward progress comes in the form of education and awareness among property owners.