City of San Carlos - Wastewater


Maintenance - Wastewater

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Visit the Public Works Capital Improvement Program Projects page to view current wastewater projects.

Sewer Rates
For a list of current sewer rates, please see the City of San Carlos Municipal Code Section 13.08.160 and to see if you qualify for the new Sewer Rate Reduction Program, click here.

For further information regarding sewer rates and financial projections for the City's sewer enterprise and rate increases needed to fund future cost of providing sewer, please see:

DRAFT Sewer Financial Plan & Rate Update ( PDF 854.8 KB)
DRAFT San Carlos Sewer Capacity Charge Report  ( PDF 727.8 KB)

San Carlos Wastewater Infrastructure

The City owns and operates a wastewater collection system consisting of over 105 miles of sewer pipelines and six sewer pump stations.  Wastewater is conveyed from the City to the
South Bayside System Authority (SBSA)
 a regional wastewater treatment plant jointly owned by San Carlos, Belmont, Redwood City, and the West Bay Sanitary District -- for treatment and subsequent discharge into the San Francisco Bay.  A small percentage of SBSA's wastewater is treated to higher levels and used as recycled water by Redwood City.  In addition to serving City customers, the City also conveys wastewater from four small neighboring County-operated sewer maintenance districts to the regional wastewater treatment plant. To learn more about the San Carlos wastewater system, its condition, environmental requirements, rates, maintenance, and planned improvement of the system, please click here.

Sewer Lateral Maintenance

According to the City of San Carlos Municipal Code Chapter 13.05, property owners are responsible for the upper sewer lateral.  As shown in the diagram below and attached brochure, this includes all sewer pipes from the property line cleanout to the building.  The City maintains the lower lateral within the public right-of-way.  If your property does not have a property line cleanout, the property owner is responsible for maintaining the entire sewer line down to the City main sewer line.

Sewer Program

The City of San Carlos provides sewer service to approximately 11,100 residential and commercial sewer connections within the City.  Residential customers account for roughly 90% of total accounts and 80% of wastewater flows.  The City encompasses 5.9 square miles and has a population of approximately 28,800.

Sewer System Management Plan (SSMP)

Smoke Testing Sewer Lines

Sanitary Sewer Easements

Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG)

Before, During, and After Sewer Overflows

The video below provides tips for avoiding sewer emergencies, as well as contact information and recommended protocol for sewer overflows.

Funding Wastewater Needs

To access the current rates that were adopted by City Council at the July 8, 2013 meeting, please refer to the City of San Carlos Municipal Code section of our website. The current rates are listed under 
Section 13.08.160

City Sewer System Capital Needs
  A recently-completed Sewer Master Plan identifies the need for $42 to $72 million over the next 20 years for repairs, rehabilitation, and replacement of aging City sewer pipelines, 60% of which are between 50 and 100 years old and approaching the end of their useful lives. Higher-priority near-term needs are estimated to range from roughly $12 to $20 million depending on if the City opts to pursue a minimum cost approach or a more comprehensive replacement program. Master Plan funding needs equate to roughly $2.1 to $3.6 million on average per year. Together, the Consent Decree and Master Plan sewer infrastructure improvements will require a higher level of capital funding than the City’s sewer rates have historically supported.  

You may view, download or print the Sewer Collection System Master Plan here:
   ·         Final Report 
   ·         Appendix A  
   ·         Appendix B  
              ·         Appendix C
              ·         Appendix D
              ·         Appendix E

-Year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) – South Bayside System Authority (SBSA) 
 has embarked on a $420 million plan to rebuild its aging sewer force main and regional wastewater treatment plant. San Carlos is responsible for 15.14% of project costs equating to approximately $64 million. SBSA has been pursuing a combination of low-rate State Revolving Fund (SRF) financing supplemented by bond financing; the City’s share of SBSA debt service is projected to ramp up from the current level of $670,000 to about $4.5 million annually over the next 5 years. 

In addition, SBSA also anticipates needing to fund an additional $100 million nutrient removal project in approximately 5
-7 years to comply with future permit requirements. The City’s share of costs, estimated at $15 million, are projected to be financed by SBSA resulting in an additional $1.1 million of annual debt service. This cost is not included in the proposed three year rate adjustments, but it is included in the ten year rate projections. It is a primary reason that the rates would need to continue to rise after the third year.

Capacity Assurance Plan – In 2012 the City identified approximately $10 million of sewer system capacity improvements needed over the next 5 years (through 2017/18) to prevent overflows and meet requirements of a legal settlement (Consent Decree) with San Francisco Bay keeper. These costs were addressed last year during hearings that resulted in a 6% rate increase in all categories.  

Ongoing Cost Inflation – In general, water and sewer enterprises need 3% to 5% annual rate adjustments to keep revenues in line with utility cost inflation. For financial planning purposes, the financial projections developed in this report assume that City operating costs escalate at an annual rate of 4%, and SBSA wastewater treatment costs escalate at an annual rate of 5%. Sewer rates in San Carlos are, and would continue to be, at the median or below compared with neighboring agencies. 

April 8, 2013 City Council Meeting

Staff Report


Draft Rate Study

Prop 218 Notice

Belmont Creek Technical Watershed Study ( PDF 37.69 MB) - This Technical Study has been prepared to determine feasible flood control alternatives for Belmont Creek that would reduce flooding in the vicinity of Industrial Road and Harbor Blvd., and the surrounding areas in the City of San Carlos. As such, the Belmont Creek Watershed Study, Creek Assessment, and Recommendations for Sustainable Improvements Project (Project) studied flood control measures to mitigate the flooding that has historically occurred in this area, including at the Novartis facility.  Key stakeholders benefitting from this Project include City of San Carlos, City of Belmont, City of Redwood City, San Mateo County, San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Department of Transportation, Caltrain and private property owners.