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17.32.070 Maintenance of Sewer and Drainage Systems.

Sewer system maintenance obligations including inspection, rehabilitation, routine cleaning and repair are based on ownership of the system:

A.  Private Systems. A sewer or drainage system that was not constructed by the City, built under a public works permit, or otherwise accepted pursuant to Subsections 17.32.070 B.1. or B.2. must be maintained by the parties served by the system, regardless of whether the system is located within a public right-of-way.

1.  If any portion of an existing sewer or drainage system extends into a public right-of-way, the property owner must obtain a permit pursuant to Chapter 17.24 before beginning work within the right-of-way. 

2.  For a sewer or drainage system located in a public right-of-way that is under either private or unclear ownership, the BES Chief Engineer may grant or deny a permit to repair, upgrade, or replace the system as provided by Section 17.32.030. Such a system may only remain in the public right-of-way at the discretion of the BES Chief Engineer.

3.  Incidental, inadvertent, or emergency City maintenance of private sewer or drainage systems or systems with unclear ownership does not obligate the City to perform future maintenance, imply acceptance of the system, or confer ownership of the system on the City.

B.  Public Systems. A sewer or drainage system constructed by the City, constructed under a public works permit, or accepted by the City pursuant to Subsections 17.32.070 B.1. or B.3. will be maintained by the City as explained below in this Section unless otherwise specified by written agreement with the City.

1.   Limits of City Maintenance Responsibility. The City maintains City sewer and drainage improvements that are located in City rights-of-way and that are described as part of the City public sewer, storm sewer and drainage system. However, the City only maintains sewer laterals as follows:

a.  For a City-paved street with curbs, the City will maintain a lateral from the sewer main to the street-side curb face nearest the property being served. If there is more than one curb, as with stormwater facilities, the City will maintain to the street-side curb face closest to the property line. Otherwise, the City will maintain only the wye or tee connection for sewer laterals.

b.  For a City-paved street without curbs, the City will maintain a lateral from the sewer main to the edge of the City paved street area.

c.  Under Subsections 17.32.070 B.1.a. and b., when the sewer main is located in the right-of-way between the property line and the street-side curb face closest to the property line, the City will maintain only the wye or tee connection for the lateral.

d.  For an unpaved street, the City will maintain those portions of any sewer lateral within an area of right-of-way up to 28 feet wide and centered on the centerline of the City right-of-way, as determined by the City, as follows:

(1)  When the sewer main is within the 28-foot maintenance area, the City will maintain the lateral to the limit of the maintenance area;

(2)  When the sewer main is outside the 28-foot maintenance area and at least a portion of the sewer service lateral lies within the maintenance area, the City will maintain the lateral to the limit of the maintenance area; and

(3)  When the sewer main is outside the 28-foot maintenance area and no portion of the sewer service lateral lies within the maintenance area, the City will maintain only the wye or tee connection for the lateral.

e.  In City sewer, storm sewer and drainage system easements, the City will maintain public sewer mains and only the wye or tee connections for sewer service laterals. 

f.  Those portions of a sewer service lateral not addressed by Subsections 17.32.070 B.1. a. through d. are the responsibility of the property owner receiving service through the lateral.

2.  Acceptance of Systems with Unclear Ownership. The Chief Engineer may agree to conduct future maintenance of a sewer or drainage system located in a public right-of-way or City utility easement where the ownership is unclear if, in the judgment of the BES Chief Engineer, the public will benefit thereby and: 

a.  The system conveys only domestic sanitary or stormwater flows from residential property; or

b.  The system has been specifically modified through City permit or by the City to accept stormwater flows from City rights-of-way or other City-controlled property.

c.  Acceptance of a system under this Section does not include or imply acceptance by the City of any maintenance responsibility, cost, liability or damage that arises from conditions or use of the system before acceptance by the City.

3.  Acceptance of Systems from Other Agencies., utilities or Individuals. The BES Chief Engineer may accept sewer, storm sewer and drainage systems from other public or private utilities, public agencies, non-profit groups or other persons as the BES Chief Engineer deems appropriate. This acceptance my include full ownership or only assumption of maintenance responsibilities.

4.  Adoption of Private Systems in the Public Right-of-Way. The BES Chief Engineer may agree to take ownership of a private sewer system or drainage improvement in the City right-of-way as provided by administrative rule. At the discretion of the BES Chief Engineer, a system meeting the following general criteria may be adopted:

a.  All the properties connected to the system are participating in the City’s Nonconforming Sewer Conversion Program pursuant to Chapter 17.33;

b.  The sewer system conveys only domestic sanitary or stormwater flows from residential property;

c.  The owners of all properties connected to the system provide the City with detailed information about the design, location, and condition of the system, and the properties connected to it as specified by administrative rule;

d.  The owners of all the properties connected to the system relinquish all claims to the system; and

e.  All branch fees assessed by the City are paid or financed.

5.  A system accepted under Subsection 17.32.070 B.1. or adopted under Subsection 17.32.070 B.2. will be added to the City maintenance roles as of the date of acknowledgment by the BES Chief Engineer.

6.  The City’s responsibility for maintenance of any sewer or drainage system, branch or connection point is subject to the City’s annual budget appropriation and will be limited to the level of service dictated by the City Council’s discretionary budget decision. The City assumes no responsibility for activities requiring a level of maintenance in excess of the level for which funds have been appropriated.

7.  Any private piping, collection or conveyance structures needed to provide service to or used to transport discharges to the City’s sewer, storm sewer or drainage system, will be the sole responsibility of the property owners(s) served by such systems. System installation, maintenance and repair will occur at the expense of the applicable property owner(s).

8.   Volunteer Maintenance. Property owners adjacent to City green street or other drainage improvement are not responsible for routine maintenance of the facilities but may voluntarily perform the following tasks with BES approval:

a.  Trash and debris removal (not including sediment);

b.  Weed removal;

c.  Leaf pick up and removal;

d.  Removal of dead plantings;

e.  Watering of vegetation; and

f.  Clearing inlets and outlets to allow stormwater to freely enter and exit the facility

C.  Nuisance Abatement.

1.  The BES Chief Engineer may determine that a sewer or drainage improvement located in a public right-of-way that is under either private or unclear ownership constitutes a public nuisance if it:

a.  Impairs or threatens to impair the operation, maintenance or installation of any street or public utility;

b.  Is so deteriorated that its flows infiltrate or threaten to infiltrate any public utility or impact or threaten to impact the support structures of any street or public utilities;

c.  Violates City operation, maintenance or construction standards or rules, or

d.  Otherwise creates a public health or safety hazard.

2.  Summary abatement of the nuisance is authorized when the BES Chief Engineer determines it is necessary to take immediate action to meet the purposes of this Title.

3.  Notice to the responsible party before summary abatement is not required.  Following summary abatement, the BES Chief Engineer will notify all owners identified in this Chapter or Chapter 25.09 as having maintenance or repair responsibilities. An error in the name of the property owner or address listed in the county assessment and taxation records does not affect the sufficiency of the notice. 

4.  The City will bill each property that the City determines caused or contributed to the nuisance to recover the costs of abatement. If the amount due is not paid in full within 30 days of the date of notice, the City may place a lien against the property.

See Figure 13 for an example visual representation of ownership situations.