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Sanitary Sewer Easements

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Do you have a sewer easement on your property? You may and you may not even know it.

An easement is the legal right of someone to use a portion of your property for a specific purpose. In the case of a sewer easement, that means the right to access, service and make emergency repairs to a wastewater pipe that runs under your property. Generally, an easement will show up in the title report when you buy your house. However, some homeowners may overlook the report or not understand what an easement is. If you have a manhole in your backyard, you can bet you have a sewer line running under it. If neighbors have a manhole but you don’t, you may still have a pipe that carries wastewater under your property. Of the nearly 105 miles of collection pipes in San Carlos, about 25 percent lie under private property.

San Carlos collection crews prefer to access sewer lines through manholes in the street whenever possible. This is more convenient for them and less disruptive to customers with easements. Sometimes though, it is necessary to access sewer lines on private property either to carry out routine maintenance or to perform an emergency repair or replacement. Whenever possible, crews will not enter private property without first notifying the homeowner.

It is important that homeowners understand what they may and may not do on a sewer easement. If there is a manhole on your property, you should ensure that there is unobstructed access for San Carlos crews. While a small bird bath or other easily moved garden furniture is okay, planting sod, covering the access with rocks, decks or storage is not allowed. Building permanent structures, such as garages or sheds, or planting trees on top of any portion of the easement is also not permitted.

San Carlos provides an essential service to its customers and the cooperation of those with sewer easement on their property is necessary to ensure the health and safety of everyone. To find out if there is a sewer easement on your property, to learn more about what is and is not permitted, or to review a home improvement or landscaping project that might affect an easement, you may contact the Public Works Inspector at (650) 802-4212.