Private Sewer Lateral Program Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Private Sewer Laterals
  2. Private Sewer Lateral Rebate Program
  3. Private Sewer Lateral Permitting
  4. Private Sewer Lateral Inspections
  5. Private Sewer Lateral Replacement and Rehabilitation
  6. Plumber Questions
  7. Other Questions

Private Sewer Laterals

What is a private sewer lateral (PSL)?

A PSL is a pipe that carries wastewater from your home to the public sanitary sewer system, where it is then conveyed to a wastewater treatment facility.

Watch this video to see how your PSL connects to and impacts the public sewer system.

Who is responsible for maintaining PSLs?

Property owners are responsible for maintaining their PSLs from their home up to their property line. Property owners are also responsible for replacing or rehabilitating (lining) them when they are defective.

What is a defective PSL?

Defective means, as applied to a private sewer lateral, a private sewer lateral for which any of the following conditions exist upon inspection by a licensed plumbing contractor or other competent professional:

  1. Evidence of pipe or joint cracks or deterioration;
  2. Root intrusion into a pipe;
  3. A misaligned pipe segment, sag, or lack of positive gradient;
  4. A lack of a necessary cleanout cap;
  5. A downspout, drain, defective cleanout or other connection that allows storm water or other extraneous water to enter the sanitary sewer collection system; and/or
  6. A defect (such as a crack, fracture, hole, open joint, etc.) or active leak that allows the discharge of sewage on the property or the introduction of extraneous water into the system.

What material has been used to construct PSLs?

Various materials have been used to construct PSLs, including vitrified clay, Orangeburg, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), galvanized steel, and cast iron. Of these materials, PVC is now most used as a best practice. Additionally, other materials such as cast iron may be able to be lined using a cured-in-place lining process (CIPP). CIPP, if done correctly, can be a lower-cost alternative to full pipe replacement and may have the least impact on your yard as it can be done without digging up the pipe. CIPP may not be suitable depending on the condition of the existing pipe. A qualified plumber or contractor will be able to assess and recommend the best option.

What is Orangeburg material, and why must PSLs made with it be replaced?

Orangeburg is a fiber material made of wood pulp sealed with coal tar. Orangeburg was used for electrical and telecommunications conduits and was not intended to be used for sewer laterals. Sewer laterals made from this material were commonly installed during World War II because the material was inexpensive and there was a cast iron pipe shortage at the time. Laterals made from Orangeburg are susceptible to sags (known as bellying), tree root intrusion, and groundwater infiltration, and they deteriorate at a faster rate than other types of pipes. Issues with this type of pipe are common throughout the United States.

Why do PSLs made of any material fail?

PSLs fail primarily due to pipe corrosion, calcification, scale build-up, settlement from shifting soil, tree root intrusion, and damaged cleanouts.

What happens when PSLs fail?

When PSLs fail, sewage can back up into homes and yards. Groundwater or rainwater that enters the pipes through cracks end up in the public sanitary sewer system, causing inundation of pipes and can lead to sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) into local communities and waterways. Pipes that are cracked can also leak wastewater, also known as exfiltration, and contaminate the surrounding soil on private property.

What is the environmental impact of defective PSLs?

PSLs that allow rainwater or groundwater to enter the sanitary sewer system contribute to excessive sewage flows that may result in SSOs. SSOs can end up in storm sewers, yards, and local waterways resulting in pollution. SSOs are prohibited under state regulations and can result in fines to Pinellas County Utilities.

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Private Sewer Lateral Rebate Program

Pinellas County Utilities (PCU) has allocated funding to help eligible single-family home property owners with the cost of inspecting and replacing or rehabilitating their Private Sewer Laterals (PSLs). Eligible single-family home property owners, who are PCU customers and hire a plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board (PCCLB), can apply for rebates.

For inspections occurring on or after October 1, 2022, property owners can apply for reimbursement of 100% of the cost, up to $350 for PSL video inspections and for 50% of the cost to replace or rehabilitate the PSL, up to $3,500. These rebates are available one time per property. PSL point repairs, clearing blockages or any other routine maintenance are not eligible for rebates. To apply for a rebate, please visit the Pinellas County Access Portal at https://aca-prod.accela.com/pinellas/Default.aspx, then select the “Utilities” tab. First-time users must first create an account.

Who is eligible for PSL rebates?

Single-family home property owners must meet all eligibility requirements to apply for a PSL rebate. The eligibility requirements are:

  1. The property must be a single-family home property.
  2. The property must be residential (not a business).
  3. The property’s PSL must connect directly to the Pinellas County Utilities sanitary sewer system.
  4. The property must be in the PCU wastewater service area. To determine if you are eligible, visit Private Sewer Lateral Rebate Program – Pinellas County or call PCU Customer Services at 727-464-4000.
  5. The PSL cannot be connected through a private sewer system.
  6. The property owner has not previously received a program rebate for inspection or replacement/rehabilitation for that property.
  7. The single-family home property must not have been part of the services offered through the County’s Find & Fix Program. This program is anticipated to be launched in mid-2023.
  8. The property owner does not have outstanding liens or fees owed to the County. Go to Pinellas County Public Records (mypinellasclerk.org) or call (727) 464-7000 for assistance.
  9. A plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with PCCLB must be hired to perform the PSL inspection and replacement or rehabilitation on or after October 1, 2022.

If my PSL requires replacement or rehabilitation, and my plumbing permit is not issued by Pinellas County, can I qualify for a rebate?

Yes, however, property owners must meet all eligibility requirements and provide the closed plumbing permit from the appropriate permitting authority.

Cities in the PCU sewer service area that have a building department within the city are Madeira Beach, the Town of Belleair, Indian Shores, Redington Beach, Kenneth City, and the City of Seminole. Eligible customers must apply for a building permit through their city to replace or rehabilitate their PSL and hire a plumber or contractor registered with the PCCLB.

The cities of Belleair Beach, Belleair Shores, Belleair Bluffs, Indian Rocks Beach, and unincorporated areas with the Pinellas County Utilities sewer system will apply for a permit through the Pinellas County Building and Development Review Services Department.

When does the work need to be completed?

Work must be completed on or after October 1, 2022, to be eligible for a rebate.

How can I check to see if my property has already received rebates?

If you purchased the home after November of 2022, you can contact PCU Customer Service at privatesewer@pinellas.gov or (727) 464-4000 to verify if the property received the rebate in the past.

How do I find a plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with PCCLB?

For a list of plumbing contractors who is certified or registered with PCCLB, please visit https://public.co.pinellas.fl.us/clbsearch/index.jsp

What is the typical cost for a PSL video inspection?

PSL inspections typically cost between $250 and $350. Some plumbing contractors may charge less. The rebate offered for PSL inspections is up to $350 per property.

How much does it cost to rehabilitate a PSL?

Rehabilitating a PSL using cured-in-place pipe lining can cost between $3,500 and $7,000 or more, depending on the length, condition, and size of the pipe.

How much does it cost to replace a PSL?

Replacing a PSL can cost between $5,000 and $10,000 or more, depending on the depth, length of the lateral, and the type of surface restoration required.

Why doesn’t the rebate cover repairs of my PSL?

The rebate does not cover PSL repairs because repairs are a temporary fix to a problematic pipe that will eventually fail. Replacement or rehabilitation are long-term solutions. Additionally, minor repairs do not seal the length of the pipe and therefore will continue to allow the entry of groundwater into the public sewer system, which is prohibited by County ordinance. 

What is included in the County’s inspection rebate?

For a single-family home property owner, the rebate provides up to $350 for video inspection by a plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with PCCLB from the cleanout outside the house and within two feet of the foundation to the cleanout located at the property line.

What is included in the PCU rebate for PSL pipe replacement or rehabilitation?

The rebate offered for PSL full replacement or rehabilitation is 50% of the cost, up to $3,500 per property.

If I am required to replace my PSL, will the County pay to fix my front yard?

The cost of restoring an area to its previous condition where a PSL is replaced or rehabilitated is eligible to be included in the rebate.

Is there a deadline to apply for my rebate after the work is complete?

Rebate applications for PSL inspection must be submitted online within 90 days of the day the PSL was inspected. Rebate applications for PSL replacement or rehabilitation must be submitted online within 90 days of project completion and PSL inspection permit closure.

What is the total amount I can receive in rebates through this program?

An eligible single-family home property owner, who follows all requirements, can qualify to receive up to $350 for a closed-circuit television (CCTV) video inspection and 50% of replacement or rehabilitation up to $3500 for a total of up to $3,850 in rebates. A plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with PCCLB must be used for all work.

Can a registered plumbing contractor apply for the rebate?

A plumbing contractor registered or certified with PCCLB can submit a rebate application on behalf of an eligible customer. Pinellas County will not reimburse contractors or plumbers directly. All rebates will be issued directly to the homeowner after the work is completed and paid for (receipts and other proof of work are required).

Why can’t Pinellas County pay the entire cost of inspection and replacement and then bill the single-family home property owner?

Not all properties and costs will be eligible for a rebate; therefore, the property owners of single-family homes are responsible for paying all costs up front. Eligible property owners can apply for rebates for eligible costs after work is complete.

If I have a lien on my property or owe Pinellas County money, am I eligible for a rebate?

Single-family home property owners who owe money to Pinellas County for unpaid utility bills, taxes, traffic tickets, parking tickets, or similar liens will not be eligible for a rebate until those bills are settled. To search for liens and outstanding fees with the Pinellas County Clerk of Court, go to Pinellas County Public Records (mypinellasclerk.org) or call (727) 464-7000 for assistance.

After outstanding liens, fees, or fines are paid, the property owner may request the applicable rebate(s) if all other criteria are met.

How long does it take to process an approved rebate?

It can take up to 90 days to process a rebate (up to 60 days to determine eligibility and another 30 days to process an approved rebate). This allows time for qualified County personnel to review videos and documents submitted with the rebate application; gather additional information, if needed; update County records; and process payments for approved rebates.

Could a rebate be denied?

Yes, the possible reasons for denial of a rebate include:

  • Property owner has an outstanding lien on the property
  • Property owner has outstanding fees owed to Pinellas County
  • Property owner has outstanding fines owed to Pinellas County
  • Property owner can’t be reached after a rebate application is submitted
  • Property owner doesn’t provide a completed application within 90 days of inspection
  • Recommended rebate total exceeds the amount remaining in the Rebate Fund
  • Property owner uses a contractor that is not registered or certified with the PCCLB
  • The work is not permitted or inspected by the appropriate building department
  • The application was not submitted by the deadline
  • Funds for the rebate program have been fully distributed
  • The rebate program is discontinued

To search for liens and outstanding fees with the Pinellas County Clerk of Court, go to Pinellas County Public Records (mypinellasclerk.org) or call (727) 464-7000 for assistance.

If I am denied a rebate, is there an appeals process?

There is no appeals process.

Is there a limit to the amount of money in the rebate fund?

Yes, Pinellas County has allocated $800,000 for the fiscal year 2023 from October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023. Funding for future years will be determined as part of the annual budget process and subject to board approval.

How can a homeowner determine if funds are remaining or have run out for the fiscal year?

Requested monies are tracked by the County, and rebate applications will not be accepted when the requests exceed the available amount remaining in the Rebate Fund. Check Private Sewer Lateral Rebate Program – Pinellas County for updates and funding status. For additional questions on the availability of funds, please email privatesewer@pinellas.gov or call (727) 464-4000.

If I apply for a rebate and the fund has been exhausted, will my request carry over to the next year?

No, requests do not carry over to the next fiscal year if funds are depleted.

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Private Sewer Lateral Permitting

Pinellas County Utilities (PCU) requires property owners who apply for building permits to inspect their private sewer laterals (PSLs) as part of the building permit application process if the work being done meets certain conditions. The conditions can be viewed Pinellas County Code Section 126-704. This applies to single-family home property owners connected directly to the Pinellas County Utilities sewer system. This program uses the building permit application process to trigger mandatory PSL inspections using a plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with the Pinellas County Contractor Licensing Board (PCCLB). For a list of plumbing contractors who are certified or registered with PCCLB, please visit https://public.co.pinellas.fl.us/clbsearch/index.jsp. If the plumbing contractor certified or registered with PCCLB determines the PSL is defective, PSL replacement or rehabilitation using pipe lining may be required.

TOPICDAYS TO TAKE ACTION
Building permit triggers PSL inspection30 days to complete PSL inspection
and
90 days to upload inspection video
PSL inspection complete90 days to request an inspection rebate
PSL inspection determines PSL is defective365 days to complete PSL replacement or rehabilitation
PSL replacement or rehabilitation complete90 days to request a replacement or rehabilitation rebate

What kind of building permit will trigger a PSL inspection permit?

Applicable building permits include any improvements that may result in an increase in wastewater discharge (i.e., adding new plumbing fixtures) into the PCU wastewater collection system from the PSL. This includes:

  • Demolition permit (where the existing sanitary lateral will be reused)
  • Plumbing fixture permit (where the project will increase flow into PCU’s sanitary system)
  • Residential permit (building/addition/remodel)
  • Plumbing emergency sewer (PSL repair)
  • Plumbing cured-in-place pipe liner system (PSL only)
  • Plumbing fixture replacement residential (increases flow)

How do I know whether I will need a PSL inspection as part of my building permit?

The permitting component of the Private Sewer Lateral Permitting Policy applies to single-family home property owners in the Pinellas County sewer service area and are in unincorporated Pinellas County and the municipalities of Belleair Beach, Belleair Bluffs, Belleair Shore, and Indian Rocks Beach. Single-family home property owners must be PCU sewer customers and use Pinellas County Building and Development Review Services as their permitting authority. They must have a plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with PCCLB inspect their PSLs within 30 days of filing a qualifying building permit that meets any of the following conditions:

  1. The work would alter or expand any component of the building collection system that flows into the private sewer lateral, including any drain or fixture such that the flow into the county system would be increased;
  2. Would involve work, alterations, improvements, or replacement of any portion of the private sewer lateral;
  3. The work would include the addition, replacement, or relocation of a plumbing fixture, bathtub with shower or whirlpool tub or shower pan, or urinals, toilets, sinks, or trench drains that would increase wastewater flows into the county system;
  4. The construction estimate of a home improvement is 50 percent or greater of the assessed value; this repair or reconstruction is considered a substantial improvement. A substantial improvement is defined as the first alteration of any wall, ceiling, floor, or another structural part of the building, whether the alteration changes the external dimensions of the structure. This definition is consistent with the 50 percent rule implemented by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP);
  5. Additional square footage of 70 square feet or more is added to an existing residential building because additional occupants would increase wastewater flows to the private sewer lateral;
  6. A building is to be demolished and the lateral is to be kept in place. If a building has already been demolished and a new building is being constructed, any existing lateral being utilized will require inspection including those under slabs per the building code.

Will the PSL inspection delay my building permit?

No. This requirement will not impact your ability to get a building permit. However, if the work is not completed in the required timeframe, applicable code enforcement measures including fines and penalties can and will be assessed per Pinellas County code.

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Private Sewer Lateral (PSL) Inspections

How can I tell if my PSL is cracked or misaligned?

Many homeowners will not have any warning signs that their lateral is leaking or defective until it is too late. Once the pipe collapses or fails, this can cause sewer back-ups into the home which often can create significant damage to the home. Unlike a leaking roof, a leaky lateral is underground and out of sight. The PSL can be leaking for several years and homeowners may not experience any plumbing issues until it collapses. Many homeowners are not even aware that this pipe is their responsibility and are surprised to find out they are responsible for the PSL.

The only way to ensure your PSL is in good condition is to have it inspected using a closed-circuit television (CCTV) inspection process by a plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board (PCCLB). Go to PCCLB Contractor Search (pinellas.fl.us) to look up plumbing contractors.

A CCTV video inspection will be able to identify any defects in the pipe to give you peace of mind that your PSL is in good condition or if it needs to be replaced.  Pinellas County Utilities offers a rebate for this inspection of up to $350. Pinellas County also offers additional rebates to help cover the cost of the full replacement or rehabilitation. Go to Private Sewer Lateral Rebate Program – Pinellas County for more details. 

How long does it take to inspect a PSL?

PSL video inspections take 30 to 60 minutes on average. Inspection time can vary depending on how easily the lateral can be accessed, the length of the lateral, and how easily the camera moves through the pipe.

What does a PSL inspection include?

A CCTV camera is used to record video of the PSL. The camera is inserted into the lateral from a cleanout and pushed downstream toward the connection to the public sewer. If there is no cleanout outside the building, a plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with PCCLB may need to insert the camera from inside your house or through the vent stack on your roof. The video will allow the plumbing contractor to identify any defects in the lateral that are causing problems or could potentially cause problems.

What equipment is used to inspect a PSL with a camera?

Video inspections require specialty equipment, including a CCTV camera, light-emitting diode (LED) light to illuminate dark spaces, a liquid crystal display (LCD) monitor to view video in real time, and the ability to record the inspection.

What’s the easiest way to access a PSL for video inspection?

Cleanouts outside the home are typically used to access the PSL. Cleanouts are usually located outside the home between the foundation and the street or on the side of the home closest to the bathroom. Cleanouts are sometimes located inside the home. Access ports to a cleanout may be on the roof or may be covered by drywall, but this is not typical for most homes. If a cleanout is not accessible, the PSL may be accessed via the sewer vent stack, or the plumber may need to access the PSL by temporarily removing a toilet and inserting the camera into the pipe below the toilet.

What happens if the video inspection shows that my PSL is defective?

After the video inspection is complete, the plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with PCCLB will provide a written report that describes the pipe condition in detail. If a PSL is found to be defective, it must be rehabilitated or replaced at the expense of the property owner within 365 calendar days from the date of inspection or the date the owner became aware the PSL was defective.

If the inspection shows a PSL in good working condition, what other action is needed?

No additional work is needed if a plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with PCCLB determines a PSL is not defective, in accordance with the definition outlined in the Pinellas County Private Sewer Lateral Policy. In order to receive a rebate for the inspection, the CCTV video inspection will need to be uploaded to the Pinellas County Rebate application portal (https://aca-prod.accela.com/pinellas/Default.aspx) along with additional information such as name, address, and the name of the PCCLB registered plumber or contractor. First-time users of the application portal will need to create an account.

Who should I hire to have my PSL inspected?

Per Pinellas County code, single-family home property owners must hire a plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with PCCLB to inspect the PSL serving the property associated with the permit application. For a list of plumbing contractors who are certified or registered with PCCLB, please visit https://public.co.pinellas.fl.us/clbsearch/index.jsp.

What does an acceptable inspection entail?

A plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with PCCLB runs a video camera through the length of a PSL to the public right-of-way and records video footage of the inside of the PSL. Video resolution, image noise, lighting, color rendition, and file compression must be at reasonable levels. The video should be recorded directly to digital media from the camera. The plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with PCCLB will review the video to determine the PSL condition. The plumbing contractor will complete a Sewer Lateral Video Inspection Report.

Is smoke testing an acceptable inspection method to meet the requirements?

No, smoke testing is not an acceptable inspection method.

When does the PSL inspection have to be completed?

The inspection must be completed within 30 days of filing the building permit application.

Is there a deadline for uploading the PSL video inspection?

The inspection video, inspection form, and report must be uploaded within 90 days of the building permit application.

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Private Sewer Lateral (PSL) Replacement and Rehabilitation

How long does the single-family home property owner have to replace or rehabilitate the pipe?

The single-family home property owner will have 365 days from the date of inspection to replace or rehabilitate their defective PSL.

If the PSL is defective, can the property owner repair rather than replace or rehabilitate the pipe?

Repairs are considered a temporary solution and not eligible for the PSL rebate. PSL replacements or rehabilitations performed by a plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board (PCCLB) are eligible for rebates because they are long-term solutions.

What is cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) lining?

Pipelining is a way of rehabilitating cracked or broken pipes by installing a new CIPP within the old pipe. This new, strong pipe inside the existing damaged one seals off cracks and improves flow from the house to the sewer main. When lining an existing lateral, single-family home property owners won’t need to restore their lawns or gardens like they would if they were replacing their pipes entirely because there’s no excavation. However, not every defective PSL can be fixed using this process.

What if the PSL on my property has recently been installed or replaced?

Single-family home property owners who have had their PSLs installed, replaced, or rehabilitated or have had an inspection proving the PSL is not defective within the last 10 years are exempt from the inspection requirement as part of the permit application. Documentation is required to show this work has been completed.

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Plumber Questions

I am a Florida-licensed plumbing contractor, and I want register with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board (PCCLB) to perform work under the PSL Policy. Who do I contact?

Plumbing contractors can go to Contractor Licensing Department – Pinellas County or call (727) 582-3100 for more information.

Where do I upload the PSL inspection video for my PCU customer?

This will be done through the Accela Citizen Access (ACA) portal. First-time users must create an account. The form to accompany the video can be completed online at Private Sewer Lateral Video Inspection (formsite.com)

Can I offer discounts to my customers upfront and apply for the PSL rebate myself?

No, the rebates will be paid only to eligible single-family home property owners with proof of payment to a PCCLB-registered or certified plumbing contractor.

Can I assist a property owner in his or her application of a PSL rebate by uploading the inspection video and related documents?

Yes, a plumber can upload the inspection video, report, and related documents for the property owner, and apply for the rebate using the property owner’s name and email address. Eligible sewer customers will receive the rebate directly.

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Other Questions

Why do I have to use one of the plumbers on the Pinellas County approved list instead of doing it myself or hiring another plumber?

Plumbing contractors who are certified or registered with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board (PCCLB) agree to follow guidelines to assure proper PSL inspection and replacement or rehabilitation.

How can I protect against price gouging when choosing a plumber to do work on my single-family home property?

If a plumbing contractor who is certified or registered with PCCLB is suspected of price gouging or misrepresenting the PSL Rebate Program or the condition of your PSL, he or she will be referred to the PCCLB for investigation. Ultimately, a plumbing contractor could lose his or her state plumbing license if improprieties are proven. Please visit www.pcclb.com for additional resources.

Can plumbing issues inside the house be detected and addressed as part of this effort?

The focus of the program is to reduce sanitary sewer overflows by addressing defective PSLs. Any plumbing issues found inside the house are not eligible for rebate funds.

Will plumbers need to enter the home to conduct the PSL video inspection?

If the building on your property does not have an outside cleanout, the plumbing contractor may need to enter the home to access an inside cleanout. If a cleanout is not available (outside or inside), the plumbing contractor may access the PSL via a sewer vent stack or by temporarily removing a toilet and inserting the camera into the pipe under the toilet.

Why aren’t businesses and non-single-family home properties included in the PSL rebate program?

Rebates are reserved for homeowners to alleviate costs associated with a PSL replacement. Other Pinellas County private sewer program initiatives can be viewed at privatesewer.pinellas.gov.

For PCU customers in municipalities with their own permitting departments, will construction inspections by their officials be accepted by Pinellas County for rebate purposes?

Yes, single-family home property owners who want to submit a PSL replacement or rehabilitation rebate request must include the closed permit issued by their municipality, as well as other required documentation, and the property must be directly connected to PCU’s sanitary sewer system.

If you have additional questions, contact: privatesewer@pinellas.gov or (727) 464-4000.

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