While BWSC is responsible for maintaining its sewer main located in a public way, property owners are responsible for all expenses resulting from maintenance and repair of their property's entire lateral from inside the basement, up to and including the connection to BWSC's sewer main in the street. The property owner is also responsible for expenses incurred in determining or relieving the cause of any blockage in the entire sewer lateral from the building foundation to the connection to the BWSC line.
Maintenance of the sewer lateral includes cleaning out debris, removing grease, cutting roots, and any other procedures used to keep the entire length of the sewer lateral clear and functional.
Repair of the sewer lateral includes removing blockages, lining compromised pipes, replacing collapsed pipes, or fixing any leaks.
If the plumber or drain cleaner is unable to clear a blockage or if the pipe is collapsed or leaking, the property owner may be eligible to participate in the Sewer Lateral Financial Assistance Program.
Eligible property owners who participate in this program will not have to bear the full financial burden to repair the completely broken, blocked, or leaking sewer lateral. BWSC may provide a one-time grant, up to $4,000.00, to property owners who meet the eligibility criteria. A property is eligible once every 20 years for the program.
A property owner is eligible to participate in the program if all of the following conditions are met:
- The sewer lateral is blocked, collapsed, or leaking
- The condition is verified by BWSC
- The BWSC account for the property is active and current
- Three estimates are obtained from contractors licensed and bonded by BWSC (see below)
- The building has not participated in the program in the last 20 years
- The property owner has received confirmation of eligibility for the Sewer Lateral Financial Assistance Program from BWSC and complies with all program guidelines
The following is a list of guidelines to assist property owners when applying for the program.
If You Have a Blocked or Collapsed Lateral:
- When a blockage or collapse occurs, the property owner hires a licensed and bonded contractor to attempt to clear the blockage
- If the licensed and bonded contractor hired is unable to clear the blockage, the property owner needs to arrange a meeting between the contractor and BWSC to verify the blockage or collapse by calling Operations at 617-989-7900 to schedule a lateral inspection appointment
- If the contractor clears the line, the property owner is responsible for all expenses incurred in clearing the blockage
- If the contractor is unable to clear the blockage, and BWSC verifies the condition and property owner's eligibility, the property owner may participate in the program
If You Have a Leaking Lateral:
- When a leaking lateral is identified, the property owner will receive a letter from BWSC
- If the property owner receives a letter, please contact Engineering Planning at 617-989-7433
How to Participate in the Program
Based on a defect in the lateral, the property owner can repair, replace, or reline the sewer lateral to correct the condition:
- The property owner signs a BWSC waiver agreement and obtains written repair estimates from three BWSC licensed and bonded contractors
- BWSC provides authorization to the property owner to proceed with the repair work
- Once all work is completed, BWSC will inspect and confirm that the lateral is no longer blocked, collapsed, or leaking
- The property owner is responsible for paying the contractor in full
- A check in the amount not to exceed $4,000.00 will then be issued to the property owner after the Commission receives confirmation that final payment for the work performed has been made.
- All work much be completed within 30 days of the determination of eligibility unless an extension is approved by BWSC
A partial repair made to the sewer lateral can reestablish flow in the pipe but will not necessarily eliminate leaks occurring along a different length of the pipe and/or prevent any future breaks in the non-repaired portion of the lateral. As homeowners are responsible for both maintaining flow in and preventing leaks from their sewer lateral, and as grants provide only one-time assistance, owners who are approved for repairs requiring excavation are encouraged to use the grant toward replacing and/or relining the entire sewer lateral from the building foundation to the connection to BWSC's line.
If you think you qualify for the Sewer Lateral Financial Assistance Program, please contact Operations at 617-989-7900.