City of St. Paul Park 

on the Mississippi

Sewer : Homeowner's responsibilities

What is the property owner's responsibility?

The sanitary service (also called a lateral) which extends from inside the building to the sanitary sewer main in the street. 

As a homeowner, what is my role regarding sewage overflow?

You are responsible for the maintenance and repair of your lateral.  A cracked deteriorated or root filled lateral can allow groundwater to seep into your sanitary service, as well as the sanitary sewer system, which contributes to the problem.  A lateral in poor condition or restrictions in your lateral can also cause blockage, stoppages of the flow of sewage from your property to the public sanitary sewer main.  This can result in backups into your basement, causing property damage and potential health concerns.

Is my service affected by what I put down the drain?

Yes!  Do not dispose of:

  • fats, oil, and grease
  • food, coffee grounds and egg shells
  • diapers
  • disposable wipes
  • kitty litter
  • paper towels
  • rubber or plastic gloves
  • rags or shop towels
  • sanitary napkins
  • hazards waste such as oil, grease, gasoline, antifreeze, poisons, paint, or solvents

What kinds of problems do "fats, oil and grease" cause?

Grease can enter the sewer at virtually any point, including your kitchen sink.  You might think that it can't do any harm to allow a small amount of grease to go down the drain as you are cleaning up, especially if you rinse with very hot water.  But hot water cools quickly, and so does hot grease.  When it cools, it solidifies, sticking to the insides of sewer pipes, trapping food particles and all kinds of other debris in the wastewater.  Over time, this messy mass can grow until the flow of water is obstructed and sewage begins to back up into your building or other buildings on the same line. 

What kinds of problems do "flushable wipes" cause?

So-called "flushable wipes" are moist towelettes that are primarily marketed to adults.  Unfortunately, since they're designed to be strong, the wipes do not break down easily as toilet paper.  The more wipes and other inappropriate items that get flushed, the greater the probability that a major clog is going to happen.  Wipes can also contribute to a service connection backup, which the homeowner is typically responsible for fixing.  It is best to throw wipes in the trash instead of flushing them. 

What kinds of problems do "paper products" cause?

Paper towels, disposable (and cloth) diapers, and feminine products cause a great deal of problems in the property owner's line as well as the main.  These products do not deteriorate quickly, as does bathroom tissue.  They become lodged in portions of the lines where there is accumulation of any type of debris, and dam up the line, causing sewer backup.  These products should also be disposed of in the garbage can.

What kinds of problems do "needles" cause?

Disposing of hypodermic needles into the sewer system presents special and possible harmful problems for the wastewater collection and wastewater treatment employees.  Please DO NOT flush needles.  The proper method of disposal is to re-cap the needle and put it into a "sharps container".

What kinds of problems do "roots" cause?

Shrubs and trees, seeking moisture, will make their way into sewer line cracks.  These roots can do a lot of damage.  They start out small, getting into a small crack in the pipe; but as the tree shrub continues to grow, so does the toot.  This obviously, after time goes on, causes your sewer line to break, which in turn allows debris to hang up in the sewer line, thus causing a backup. One way to prevent roots from entering your line is to replace your line and tap with new plastic pipe.  The other alternative is to be careful about planting greenery around your sewer line.  We suggest that you have the roots cut in your line semi-annually.


City of St. Paul Park, 600 Portland Avenue, St. Paul Park MN 55071