Education Key To Addressing Growing Lateral Issues

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

“The point has been made before, but laterals truly are an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ issue and as a result, lateral maintenance by owners is not always a priority. If anything, mandates should be required of property owners, not cities. But in order for this issue to be resolved, there needs to be a clear delineation of where the responsibility of the city ends and that of the property owner begins. Frankly, it could be as simple as property lines. It will take a clear resolution of boundaries and responsibilities in order to experience the robust growth in rehab that is necessary compared to the need for it projected by our industry.”

Regulatory answer?
In situations where laterals must be replaced, pipebursting is an effective alternative to trenching.

TT Technologies has led the development of the pipebursting market in the United States, and TT President Chris Brahler believes legislation is the only real option for effectively addressing failing laterals.

“System owners are responsible for the inflow and infiltration (I&I) of their systems, how they impact their operations and ultimately spills,” said Brahler. “They must comply with EPA regulations and deal with fines, etc. associated with I&I that impacts their systems.

“Much I&I is from leaking laterals or the connections at mains for the lateral. Legislation could help by requiring system owners to take responsibility for assessing the laterals connected to their systems and require them to be replaced with new pipes. These costs, which are minimal additions to rehabilitation programs of the main lines, can be recovered over time with slight rate increases.”

Brahler agrees education is important and should be coming from industry organizations and groups, including municipal and utility organizations.

“However,” he said, “if there is no legislation in place to compel utilities to act, what can education accomplish? If there are firm requirements, there will be education about compliance and execution of lateral rehabilitation and replacement programs.”

Hoffman Southwest Corp. operates Roto Rooter franchises in California, Oregon, Arizona and Utah. Its personnel use CIPP, pipebursting and open-cut construction to service hundreds of sewer laterals every day, said Mark Metcalfe, vice president of operations.

Local ordinances are becoming a factor in some of Hoffman Southwest’s service areas as municipalities adopt ordinances requiring lateral inspection anytime a property owner has a sanitary sewer overflow. The inspection then triggers appropriate rehabilitation.