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Posted on: September 5, 2019

Public Works' Sewer Lateral Program

Sewer laterals are an important part of your home maintenance plan that sometimes gets overlooked.

Thesewer lateral is the underground pipe that connects the interior waste plumbing to the Metropolitan Sewer District main.  Laterals are typically 6” in diameter and either vitreous clay pipe (VCP) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

If you live in one of the original Olivette houses you should have your lateral inspected every 3-5 years.  Some properties have mature trees with roots that aggressively grow into VCP laterals.  The photo shows a section of VCP pipe that had to be replaced because it was never maintained.  The tree roots grew to conform to the full inside core of the pipe. 

Modern houses with PVC laterals should be inspected every 10-15 years.  Root intrusion is not as common in PVC laterals but other items, such as grease build-up, can obstruct flow.

The Public Works Department manages the resident funded Sanitary Sewer Lateral Program to repair defective laterals.   The program reimburses property owners 80% of the repair cost, up to a maximum of three thousand five hundred dollars. 

Lateral defects that qualify for repair through the program are:

  • Collapsed or broken to the extent that adequate flow is not permitted.
  • Severe offset of a joint that does not permit adequate flow.
  • Severe back fall or belly that does not permit adequate flow.
  • Failure of the lateral integrity that allows ground water to enter the sanitary sewer system
  • Severe blockage that cannot be physically cleaned out.

            If you are considering selling your house, it is recommended that you inspect the property sewer lateral at the beginning of the sales process.   Program lateral repairs typically take 4 to 8 weeks to complete.


            If you experience any issues with the lateral at your property or have any questions, please call the Public Works office at 314-993-0252 for assistance.

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