Education Key To Addressing Growing Lateral Issues

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

“Rehabilitation of laterals by cities seems to be more common in beach communities, communities close to the ocean or cities with ground water or I&I issues,” Metcalfe said. “As more cities do CCTV inspections of their sewer systems on a regular basis, lateral roots protruding into the main or high flows of infiltration will result in more lateral rehabilitation.”

Requiring lateral inspection and rehabilitation if necessary before property is sold also can be a factor, believes Metcalfe.

“This is becoming more commonplace, although we estimate only about five to 10 percent of the municipalities in our area have such a program in place,” he added. “And I’m not sure how often an average home is sold -- every seven to 10 years? But this could be a minimum requirement that would drastically reduce the number of sewer lateral problems.”

Metcalfe said a gap remains in cities’ acceptance of trenchless methods for laterals and sewers.

“A further push by the industry to include trenchless methods in building codes will help,” he added. “Many inspectors still resist reducing the inside diameter of the drain lines, even though the flow characteristics often are improved due to the smooth and jointless properties of CIPP pipes.”

The primary issue preventing effective lateral rehabilitation appears to be who is responsible for the laterals. This, in turn, leads to questions as to whether property owners should maintain laterals running through their property or if sewer system owners and operators should maintain portions of lines not on public rights-of-way, and whether a solution can should be involved by legislation and regulation.

How to educate?
The consensus of industry representatives commenting in this report conclude that education is a key in addressing each of these issues. But for lateral rehabilitation to become a priority in efforts to rehabilitate sanitary sewer infrastructure, what must happen?

Kurz has said sewer system operators and municipal governments must make a paradigm shift, a change from one way of thinking to another driven by agents of change.

“Generally, system operators define the lateral problem as one of geography,” Kurz explained. “By that I mean the concern about conducting work on ‘private’ property versus ‘public’ right-of-ways. The point is that leaking or root infested defects in ‘private’ laterals contribute to problems in the entire public sewer system. The cumulative effect may overload the sewers, cause illegal overflows, cause backups and increase the load and costs for operating the wastewater treatment plant.