The new year is bringing changes to the sewer lateral repair program in Manchester.
Because sewer lateral inspections often are part of the inspections required when buying or selling a home, problems, or potential problems, that may have laid dormant before are now being identified – contributing to a dramatic rise in the number of residents utilizing the city program. Thus, beginning this month, residents will pay a $750 application fee, up from the $500 residents have paid in recent years.
Also beginning in 2018, residents will be required to contract a plumber to snake or cable their sewer line to determine if the issue will qualify, under city guidelines, for repair under the sewer lateral program. Public Works Director Bob Ruck explained that issues qualifying for the sewer lateral program include when a section of the lateral, which carries waste from the home to the Metropolitan Sewer District’s sewer main, is collapsed or broken or demonstrates another structural deficiency inhibiting flow to the sewer main. Tree roots inhibiting the flow would fall under homeowner maintenance and not be covered by the program.
Ruck said that once an application is received, a city-approved plumbing contractor, using a camera-aided inspection, will verify that the issue qualifies for the program. The $750 application fee works like an insurance deductible, helping offset the overall cost of the repair, which averages about $2,700. The city will cover costs up to $6,000. Typically, the inspection is done within a day or two and the work is completed within a week.
Eighty-seven homeowners utilized the sewer lateral program in 2017, up from the 62 homeowners in 2014. However, because of the dramatic increase in participants each year, the sewer lateral fund is running out.
Manchester is not alone in facing the challenge of increasing sewer lateral repairs. Some communities are asking residents to pay out-of-pocket for the repairs and are reimbursed on a first-come, first-served basis as funds become available. However, Manchester City Administrator Larry Perney said the city will look more closely at revenue opportunities for the 2019 budget year and going forward. The city hopes that through undetermined revenue opportunities, it can continue to absorb the cost, minus the $750 application fee, after this fiscal year.