HARRISBURG, June 30, 2016 – The state Senate today unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (D-Allegheny) that would give municipal governments the option of establishing policies and helping residents repair damaged sewer laterals.

“This bill gives local governments the flexibility to set policies for managing these laterals – and the option of assisting citizens with repairs,” Fontana said. “I am pleased by today’s overwhelming bipartisan support.”

Sewer laterals connect one’s home to a municipality’s main sewer line. Residents are required to maintain these laterals, which average about 42 feet in length. Fontana said a homeowner’s cost for repairing a damaged sewer lateral can often run from $5,000 to $35,000. He said many citizens cannot afford or put off repairing damaged laterals.

The Brookline lawmaker added that the City of Pittsburgh has over 1,200 miles of this lateral sewer pipe. He said that damaged laterals can cause sinkholes, drastic increases of excess water flowing into treatment centers, and can lead to health and safety problems.

Fontana said an Allegheny County Sanitary Authority study estimated that 40 percent of the excess sewer water it receives on dry days is the result of unwanted infiltration and inflow from damaged sewer laterals. He said the percent skyrockets to a whopping 80 percent during rainstorms.

“As a result, said this drastically increases the amount of water that authorities must convey and treat – inflating everyone’s sewer bills,” Fontana said.

Following today’s Senate approval, the Fontana bill (Senate Bill 289) now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

# # #