As a residential or business customer of the City of Fairfax Wastewater Utility owned and managed by the City of Fairfax Department of Public Works, you are entitled to a reimbursement for expenses actually paid to repair or replace your lateral within public property. In most cases, the Wastewater Utility will reimburse you for replacement of the lateral within private property if the replacement is completed using trenchless technology.
Repairs on private property are not eligible for reimbursement because such repairs are not considered a public utility purpose. You should contract with a private insurance provider for this purpose.
Lateral - The gravity pipeline from your establishment to the Wastewater Main.
Program - The Wastewater Lateral Repair and Replacement Program.
Trenchless Technology - Technology whereby total open excavation is not necessary for lateral replacement.
Step 1 – Obtain at least two quotations
Contact at least two contractors and ask for a camera inspection with video and voice recording of the inspection showing both the house number and the interior of the lateral section considered for repair or replacement. Only one recording is required for an emergency repair or replacement. Two recordings are required for a preventive replacement employing Trenchless Technology. In all cases you must obtain two quotations to ensure competition.
Step 2 – Apply with the Wastewater Utility
Under the Program you must submit a formal application with the Wastewater Utility (application available below, under 'Documents for Download') prior to engaging an independent contractor to do the work. Primarily you are required to:
Apply for reimbursement before the work is accomplished and include with the application:
- Two quotations and related descriptions for the work to be accomplished.
- At least one video recordation of the interior lateral condition for the entire length to be replaced or section to be repaired.
Step 3 – Contract for the Work
After receipt of recommendations and application approval by the City (this can be accomplished within four hours for emergency repairs), you will contract with the selected contractor. You will be responsible for the work. The City will not manage the contractor and as such will not be responsible for the work product. Your contractor will be expected to provide your project with the Standard of Care required for this region and provide you with a 10-year warranty for labor and materials. The contractor you select must follow the published Program Requirements.
Step 4 - Reimbursement
Upon completion of the work, pay the contractor and provide the invoice and proof of payment to the Wastewater Utility for reimbursement for a portion of the payments made.
The City Council approved an amendment to the Wastewater Utility Ordinance during the Public Hearing held on January 10, 2017. The amendment creates a “Wastewater lateral repair and replacement charge” to become effective on April 1, 2017 for the purpose of reimbursing customers for repair of laterals within the City rights-of-way and for replacement of pipe using conventional or trenchless technology.
Repairs to wastewater laterals — individual pipelines that carry wastewater from buildings — often involve public rights-of-way. Currently, property owners are responsible for maintenance and repair of these pipelines – all the way to the main within the rights-of-way. Usually invisible for decades, wastewater laterals sometimes require emergency repairs, particularly after a pipeline failure. These repairs must be completed immediately and can cost as much as $30,000 or more using conventional open trenches. In many cases at least a portion of the lateral runs under a public street, sidewalk or other municipal area.
Repairs are usually corrective and require immediate response. The amended ordinance provides city support in two primary ways; (1) technical advice regarding cost effective methods of repair and replacement, and (2) financial reimbursement for eligible corrective repairs or preventive replacements. The city is therefore establishing lateral repair and replacement support that would share a portion of the costs with customers who experience failures primarily within city streets and easements yet also for complete replacement to avoid future failures.
Sanitary Sewer Insurance & Coverage
Because these corrective repairs are so expensive, the city also encourages property owners to obtain additional insurance from their own insurance companies as well as some independent utilities that offer such insurance for lateral repairs.
The following companies offer insurance for sanitary sewer lateral repairs (residential customers only):
Dominion Energy Solutions “Home Protection Program” now managed by Home Serve – 888-216-3718
American Water Resources “Home Protection Program” – 888 207 5795 (in Virginia)
As of January 1, 2018 the cost for lateral repair protection is $5.99 per month for Home Serve and $8.99 per month for American Water Resources. American Water Resources offers more coverage for that premium and Home Serve offers additional landscape insurance up to $1,000 reimbursement for an additional $2.00 per month. However the American Water Resources protection covers repairs resulting from a blockage only, not breaks per se. Because coverages change fairly often please contact the companies directly via telephone to verify the latest coverage and related costs.
The Wastewater lateral repair and replacement program is being developed as a Phase 1 approach and is a self-sustaining and dedicated program. Residential and business wastewater customers will be charged $18 or $36 per year, respectively, added to each city customer’s utility bill as a separate charge per billing period.
Reimbursements for eligible projects are presented in the graphic below:
For more information regarding the Program, please view the documents below, including a video excerpt from the City Council Work Session of October 29, 2015.
Documents for Download:
- Consideration of Policy Change for Laterals Presentation (City Council Work Session of January 28, 2014).
- Wastewater Lateral Repair and Replacement Program Presentation (City Council Work Session of October 29, 2015).
- Wastewater Lateral Program Video Presentation (City Council Work Session of October 29, 2015)
- Recommended Phase 1 Wastewater Lateral Repair and Replacement Program Presentation (City Council Work Session of July 13, 2016).
- Proposed Lateral Phase 1 Repair and Replacement Program Summary.
- How to Apply for Assistance
- Wastewater Lateral Program Package (Application)