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SLIP Frequently Asked Questions

What is a sewer lateral?

An unsung hero of environmental and property management. Every time you use the toilet or sink, your sewer lateral is sending your wastewater to the City’s main sewer line, with this connection usually located in the street or within an easement in your side- or backyard. To perform an inspection, an inspector or plumber will take a video recording of the lateral line to submit to the City.

Who is responsible for maintaining sewer laterals?

In Santa Barbara, the property owner is responsible for maintaining their sewer lateral from the building up to and including the connection or “tap” to the City sewer main. See Santa Barbara Municipal Code Section 14.44.160 for more information on maintenance responsibilities. The Santa Barbara Municipal Code is available at http://qcode.us/codes/santabarbara/.

What is the purpose of SLIP?

SLIP, of the Sewer Lateral Inspection Program, was initiated in 2007 to address the high number of private sewage spills occurring in Santa Barbara. This is an ongoing issue for our community, causing private property and environmental damage. Many homes and businesses in Santa Barbara are still using their original sewer lateral. The age and material of the sewer lateral can be vulnerable to roots which may cause blockages and backups within your sewer lateral or within the City’s sewer system.

Currently, SLIP has two types of cases:

  • “Scheduled” cases where all Commercial, Industrial and Common Interest Residential parcels will have a sewer lateral inspection completed before 2023

  • “Issue related” cases where a defect is found through an inspection of the City system or a private sewer spill occurs as a result of a blockage on a private sewer lateral.

What is SLIP?

SLIP is the program by which sewer laterals are inspected using video recordings conducted by an inspector or plumber. This recording is then submitted to the City who will determine the need for repair, replacement, or rehabilitation. The City will then provide the homeowner directions on the steps to be taken to ensure public health and safety.

How do I get in touch with SLIP Staff?

The SLIP Team is available to answer questions regarding SLIP via email or phone.
Available hours: 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. M-Th and every other Friday.
Dale Escobar, SLIP Coordinator
Email: DEscobar@SantaBarbaraCA.gov (805)568-1032

Patricia Vogel, Engineering Technician
Email:  PVogel@SantaBarbaraca.gov (805)564-5368

Maribel Barrios, Administrative Specialist
Email: Mbarrios@SantaBarbaraCA.gov (805)568-1086

Bradley Rahrer, Wastewater Collection System Superintendent
Email: BRahrer@SantaBarbaraCA.gov (805)568-1080

Why did I receive a letter?

  • If you own a property within the City of Santa Barbara and receive a letter regarding your sewer lateral, it is likely because or the City identified a defect on your sewer lateral that may cause a potential blockage in the City sewer main, or because of a pivate sewer spill.

  • Your letter will identify which condition triggered the inspection. Some of those defects and their impact on the City’s sewer system include:

    • Root intrusion – Property owners should be aware of roots growing into their sewer lateral. These roots can stop or block your lateral and may cause a private or public sewer spill. In either case, a stoppage and spill will result in a public health hazard.

    • Protruding or defective sewer lateral connection – a protruding lateral can cause problems for the City maintenance crews to properly maintain the sewer mainline. Breaks or fractures in sewer laterals and their connection to the main can allow infiltration during or after rain events. While the amount of water might seem small, this additional water takes up vital capacity in the sewer system. Multiply this by the number of sewer laterals in Santa Barbara and we have a very big problem with infiltration.

I haven’t had an issue with my lateral before, yet I received a letter?

Many laterals in Santa Barbara are over 50 years old. In many cases, one defect can be a sign of more and so we need your assistance to inspect the remainder of your sewer lateral. By working together, we can help keep our City free of both private and public sewer spills.

Can we/I get another copy of the repair letter?

If you would like another copy, you may request one to be emailed to you or you can schedule a time to pick one up from our office at 520 E. Yanonali Street in Santa Barbara.

Can I get a copy of my video?

Yes. Your contractor or plumber you hire should be able to provide you a copy of your sewer lateral inspection. If you are unable to receive one, you are welcome to contact Dale Escobar, SLIP Coordinator and request a copy. We request that you bring in a USB flash drive onto which staff can transfer the video.

I had complied in the past and received a certificate of compliance, so why am I receiving another letter to video tape my sewer line?

The letter you received should provide an explanation as to the reason. City staff may have observed roots, a structural defect or a defective connection on your sewer lateral.

I only have one lateral. Why did I receive three letters?

When determining which laterals require inspection, City staff use all available resources (mainly inspection video, County Parcel Ownership information and the City’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) information) to identify the owner of the sewer lateral. Sometimes in the City’s GIS, properties appear to have multiple laterals. Your plumber is the best resource to determine how many active sewer laterals your property has or if the City GIS is incorrect. Once your sewer lateral inspection is completed and submitted to us, this information helps us update our records for the future.

I’m a tenant and I don’t own this building. Why have I been contacted and what do I do next?

Sometimes the letters do not get the attention of the property owners so a follow-up notice may be sent to the site address. We encourage you to contact the property owners as soon as possible to notify them that a sewer lateral inspection is necessary for the property. Also, if the mailing address is not updated through the County Assessor’s office, we may send letters to the site address. If you receive a letter or an administrative fine, please provide these to the landlord/homeowner.

When will you send letters to my neighborhood?

  • For single-family homes, incidents are addressed on an as-needed basis when the City’s condition assessment team uses CCTV and identifies defects on sewer laterals. We cannot forecast when you might receive a letter.

  • For commercial, industrial and residential common interest (4 or more dwelling units) properties, anticipated inspection dates are planned through the City’s computerized maintenance system. For the most part, the parcels are grouped by the street address.

Will my neighbors get a letter?

Potentially. If you received a letter indicating that a recent CCTV inspection identified an issue with your sewer lateral, the condition of your neighbor’s lateral was most likely inspected as well. If their lateral also showed a defect or issue, they will receive a letter too.

What do I do if I share a common lateral with my neighbors?

We suggest partnering with them to hire one company to complete the video inspection and/or repairs on your common lateral. We also recommend evaluating the possibility of separating your connection from your neighbors, unless you have a written agreement covering long term maintenance of the lateral.

I received a letter, where do I start?

Once you receive your inspection notification letter:

  • The first step is to have your sewer lateral inspected by one of the certified inspection companies from the list available on the City’s SLIP website. The list of certified inspection companies is provided as a resource, however, we do not endorse any one company.
  • Once your sewer lateral has been inspected, the inspection company will submit the video of your sewer lateral along with an inspection report to the City for review.
  • After the City reviews the video, City staff will provide a list of any required repairs. 

How much does it cost for a video and repair of my sewer line?

  • The cost for a video inspection of your sewer lateral will vary based on factors such as the length of your lateral and ease of access to the pipe. If you have a cleanout already installed, this helps the plumber and reduces the amount of work needed to insert the camera.
  • Repairs to a sewer lateral can be costly, especially if your lateral has not been routinely maintained in the past. The City is open to property owners using new, less-invasive technologies to reduce the cost of repairs over the traditional trenching method. To help you with this decision and select the best repair option, please see the City’s informational handout available on the SLIP website or attached to the repair letter.

What happens after the video is submitted?

Once your video and inspection form are submitted to the City by your plumber, the SLIP Coordinator will review the video to confirm all defects are documented. Once City staff has completed the review, you will receive another letter indicating any repairs needed to improve the condition of your lateral to an acceptable standard.

What are my repair options?

Depending on the scope of repairs noted in the “Notice to Repair” letter you received, you will generally have a few options:

  1. If only a few defects are noted, you may elect to just dig and repair.
  2. If several defects are observed in the video, you may want to consider replacement or rehabilitation of the entire sewer lateral. See the City’s brochure attached to the repair notification letter for more information on repair and replacement methods.
  3. If your connection to the City main needs replacing, this would be included in the work performed by your plumber. For more information or request this, please contact Dale Escobar, SLIP Coordinator.

I have my own plumber; can I use them to submit a video/make repairs?

The City requires our local plumbers to attend an annual training class to ensure they meet the City’s required standards. The City’s Qualified Inspection List is available at www.santabarbaraca.gov/lateral. Except for replacing your sewer lateral connection to the City main, any licensed plumber may make the general repairs outlined in letter you received.

Does the City offer incentives or rebates to help with repairs?

The City waives inspection fees for residential City-initiated SLIP cases.

What happens if I cannot afford the repairs or the work is not completed by the due date?

  • If you are having difficulty funding the repairs, please contact us as soon as you have received your quotes to request an extension. Please include the reason why the work cannot be done in the specified timeframe and the needed extension duration. Extension requests should be directed to Bradley Rahrer, Wastewater Collection System Superintendent at BRahrer@SantaBarbaraCA.gov or 520 E. Yanonali Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103. We will consider all extension requests based on the condition of the sewer lateral and the justification for the request.
  • We recognize that plumbers are very busy and may not be able to complete the work by your due date. In cases where there is a delay to unavailability of qualified plumbers, please notify Dale Escobar, SLIP Coordinator at DEscobar@SantaBarbaraCA.gov as soon as you are aware that you will be unable to make the repairs in the specified timeframe. We will respond back to you after we review your request. This will prevent us from sending a follow-up letter or starting the fine process.

At what point do I receive a fine after my due date?

We try to avoid issuing any fines. When it is clear the property owner is working on a solution to repairing the defective lateral, the City will issue an extension. If a property owner does not demonstrate any effort towards inspecting or making necessary repairs, an administrative fine may be added to the next month’s sewer service charges on the water bill.

Last Updated: Mar 12, 2019
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