Sewer Backup Information

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Sewer Lateral Maintenance Procedure 

If a resident is experiencing a sewer backup, it is requested that the resident contact the City of Davis Public Works - Utilities and Operations Department by phone at (530) 757-5686 between the hours of 8am and 5:00pm or by the City’s Police Department non-emergency line after hours at (530) 747-5400.  This will allow City staff to assess the situation as soon as possible, and to correct the problem - if it is in the sections of the pipe system maintained by the City - at no cost to the resident.

Calling the City directly can help to ensure as limited a delay as possible in responding, as City personnel do respond to all sanitary sewer calls from residents regardless of whether the resident initially calls the plumbing contractor or the City.  
When City staff arrive at the call-out address, they will check the sewer main in the street or easement. If the inspection reveals a problem in the sewer main, City staff will correct the problem and inform the resident of the findings. 
If the sewer main is operating properly and the property has a service lateral cleanout, City staff will determine if the service lateral is operating properly. If the service lateral is blocked, City staff will correct the problem and inform the resident of the findings. An illustration of the Front Yard Service Lateral system is included in the PDF document linked below. 
If the service lateral cleanout is not backed up, the cause of the sewer backup is most likely within the section of the system within the resident’s responsibility.  City staff will inform the resident that he or she will need to hire a plumber to clear the blockage. City staff cannot provide recommendations for plumbers.  
In the following cases, the customer will also need to obtain a plumber:

  • No access to the service line clean out due to landscaping 
  • No access to the service line clean out due to concrete 
  • No service line clean out exists

Note: If no service lateral cleanout is located, City staff will request access to the building cleanout after the plumber has cleared the service lateral blockage to facilitate locating the service lateral cleanout for future access. If a service lateral cleanout does not exists, the city will install one at no cost to the resident.

Sewer Lateral Maintenance Procedure PDF

Sewer Maintenance Responsibilities 

The responsibility for maintenance and repair of the lower and upper sewer service laterals and sewer main lines are described below.    Lower Laterals (City) and Upper Laterals (Private) The homeowner has the sole responsibility for clearing stoppages, inspecting, maintaining and repairing the upper sewer service lateral so as to maintain the upper lateral in a condition that avoids negative impacts to the operation and maintenance of the City’s system.

Care and maintenance of the upper sewer service lateral may include the following:

  • The upper lateral should be kept free from roots, grease deposits, and other solids that may impede the flow or obstruct the transmission of waste. 
  • All pipes and joints should be tight, sound, and free of structural defects (such as cracks, breaks and missing portions) to prevent root intrusion, waste exfiltration, or infiltration of groundwater or stormwater. 
  • No drains or other appurtenances that collect stormwater or surface water should be connected to the upper lateral.

Typically, the responsibility delineation between the upper and lower lateral is at the City cleanout. 

The illustrations included on the PDF linked below are intended to delineate maintenance responsibility only. 
The area within the cross-hatch indicates the portion of the service lateral that the City is responsible for clearing, repairing or replacing.  The area without cross-hatch marks indicates the portion of the sewer lateral that the homeowner is responsible for maintaining and repairing.   
City-wide, the City is responsible for clearing stoppages and for inspecting, maintaining, and repairing service lateral cleanouts, maintenance holes and main lines.

Sewer Maintenance Responsibilities PDF