Property Owners & Contractors

It is important for property owners and contractors to be aware of the responsibilities related to the connection, maintenance and repair of the sanitary sewer lines.  Information on this page is intended to serve as a helpful reference for property owners and contractors to better understand City responsibilities, property owner responsibilities, connection requirements, and construction procedures and standards.

Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO)

Collection System Maintenance staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to sanitary sewer emergencies. Once on site, staff will determine if the blockage is a sewer lateral issue or a sanitary sewer system main line issue.

If the problem is related to a lateral sewer line, the property owner is responsible for repairs and should call a certified plumber to take care of the problem. If the problem is caused by an issue with the sanitary sewer system main line, City staff will clean the spill, assess the cause of the problem, proceed with the necessary repairs, outreach with property owners in the area, and increase preventive maintenance to minimize future occurrences.

The following issues constitute a sewer emergency.  If you experience or observe any of the following, contact the City of Fresno IMMEDIATELY:

  • Unusual smell
  • Wastewater coming out of a manhole
  • Wastewater in the street
  • Missing or damaged manhole covers

To report a Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) or other sewer-related emergency:

  • Call the City of Fresno’s 311 Center by dialing 3-1-1 within City limits or calling (559) 621-CITY (2489); or
  • Report the issue in FresGO

Sanitary Sewer Overflows

Property Owner Responsibility

Each home or commercial building has a separate connection to the public sanitary sewer main called a sewer lateral. It is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain and repair their own sewer lateral from the house up to the point of connection with the public sanitary sewer main. This includes both the portion on private property and the portion located beneath the sidewalk and street up to the point where the lateral connects to the public main. The drawing below illustrates the difference between a private sanitary sewer lateral and a public sanitary sewer main.

Private Sanitary Sewer Lateral

Troubleshooting:

  • Please be aware of where your sewer lateral is located
  • Check to see if clean out is overflowing
  • Check to see if tree roots are possibly causing blockage

Property owners should contact a licensed plumber for any maintenance and repairs on the sewer lateral between the house and the connection to the public sanitary sewer main.

Contact the Wastewater Management Division to report maintenance or repair issues with the public sanitary sewer main, or sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs).

Property Owner Responsibility – English

Permitting Process – Sewer Laterals

The following steps must be completed in order to properly connect a property to the City’s sanitary sewer system:

1)    Pay connection fees. (Public Works Engineering)

To obtain a cost estimate of the connection fees and charges, contact Frank Saburit at (559) 621-8797 or Frank.Saburit@fresno.gov.

2)    Obtain appropriate permits. (Planning & Development)

Information about building permits can be found on the Planning & Development – Building & Safety web page or by calling (559) 621-8084 or (559) 621-8082.

3)    Complete the work to connect to the sewer system and abandon the septic tank or cesspool system.

4)    Obtain final inspection approval for the permit. (Planning & Development)

Contact Inspection Services at (559) 621-8116 to schedule an inspection.

5)    Sign up for sewer service billing. (Utilities Billing & Collection)

Contact Utilities Billing & Collection at (559) 621-6888 or fill out the online form.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  It is the customer’s responsibility to ensure that Utilities Billing & Collection (UB&C) is notified of the final inspection approval. If UB&C is not notified upon final inspection and later learns of the completed connection to the sanitary sewer system, the customer will be back billed to the date of final inspection, up to a maximum of 3 years.

6)    Service billing for the property begins. 

Customers will be billed monthly for sewer service.

Mandatory Sewer Connection Program

The Mandatory Sewer Connection requirement and corresponding charges were first written into the Fresno Municipal Code in 1955.  Since its inception, the City of Fresno has offered an option for property owners to defer payment of the sewer connection fees, along with interest on the balance of the fees, over a period of time, in an effort to make the cost of connecting more manageable for property owners.

The requirements have changed somewhat over time, but the intent of the Mandatory Sewer Connection requirement, and the corresponding deferral of fees, still remains:

All properties within the City of Fresno’s service area shall be connected to the City’s sanitary sewer system, and all septic/cesspool systems shall be abandoned, in order to avoid adverse environmental and public health and safety impacts due to nitrates leaching from septic tanks and cesspool systems into the groundwater.

In 2011, in order to further assist property owners with the costs of connecting to the City’s sanitary sewer system, the Fresno City Council approved a low-interest loan option for single family residential property owners to include the costs of onsite plumbing to complete the sewer connection, as well as the costs of abandoning the onsite septic tank or cesspool system.

Requirements:
Every building or structure in which plumbing fixtures are installed, and every premises having piping thereon, which conveys sewage or other liquid wastes to an approved point of disposal, shall be connected to the regional sewer system, if it is available.

The regional sewer system is available if a sewer main has been constructed and is available for use in any public street, alley or right-of-way within 100 feet for the first unit plus 50 feet for each additional unit, to be measured along such public street, alley or right-of-way from the nearest property to the sewer main.

Generally, buildings or structures connected to a septic tank or cesspool at the time the regional sewer system becomes available shall be connected to the regional sewer system within three years after the regional sewer system becomes available.

Exceptions to Mandatory Requirement to Connect:
A mandatory sewer connection may be deferred until the use of the land changes, either through district amendment or special permit, if a property meets both of the following conditions:

1)    The lot must be at least two net acres in size;

AND

2)    The lot, if not served by a community water system, contains one dwelling unit or septic system per 2.0 acres.

Additional Information:
For additional information about the Mandatory Sewer Connection Program, contact the City of Fresno 311 Center by dialing 3-1-1 within City limits or by calling (559) 621-CITY (2489), or review the document below.

Mandatory Sewer Connection Information

The City maintains a list of plumbing contractors who have performed sewer connection and septic abandonment work with the City of Fresno, hold a current State Contractor’s License and are current with their City of Fresno Business License fees.  The list is not all-inclusive, nor does it constitute an endorsement of any specific plumbers.  To request a copy of the plumber list, contact the City of Fresno 311 Center by dialing 3-1-1 within City limits or by calling (559) 621-CITY (2489).

Sewer Loan Programs

In 2011, in order to further assist property owners with the costs of connecting to the City’s sanitary sewer system, the Fresno City Council approved a low-interest loan option for single-family residential property owners to include the costs of onsite plumbing to complete the sewer connection, as well as the costs of abandoning the onsite septic tank or cesspool system.

Low-Interest Financing Options Available:
Payment of sewer connection fees, together with interest on the unpaid balance, payable because of connection of existing single-family residences anywhere in the City’s service area, and commercial or industrial development in the former Enterprise Zone, may be deferred by an agreement between the property owner and the City, to pay such fees over a period of not more than 15 years (Sewer Connection Agreement, SCA).

– FMC § 6-305 (c)

The City also offers a low-interest loan option for single-family residential property owners to pay the costs of the onsite plumbing necessary, including the costs of onsite plumbing to complete the sewer connection as well as the costs of abandoning the onsite septic tank or cesspool system, up to a maximum loan amount of $15,000, over a period of not more than 20 years (Septic Abandonment Loan, SLP).

– FMC §6-305 (f)

Additional Information:
For additional information about the loan programs, contact the City of Fresno 311 Center by dialing 3-1-1 within City limits or by calling (559) 621-CITY (2489), or review the documents below.

Sewer Loan Programs
Sewer Loan Programs – Next Steps

The City maintains a list of plumbing contractors who have performed sewer connection and septic abandonment work with the City of Fresno, hold a current State Contractor’s License and are current with their City of Fresno Business License fees.  The list is not all-inclusive, nor does it constitute an endorsement of any specific plumbers.  To request a copy of the plumber list, contact the City of Fresno 311 Center by dialing 3-1-1 within City limits or by calling (559) 621-CITY (2489).

Risk Management Claims

Information about the process to file a Claim for Damages with the City can be found on the Risk Management page or by calling (559) 621-6900.