For COVID-19 updates visit TorranceCA.Gov/COVID19.

Tree-Related Sewer Lateral Policy

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

Report an Issue or Submit a Service Request

Online Service Request

What is a Sewer Lateral?

Often call a House Connection, it is the "part of the horizontal piping beginning twelve (12) inches from the exterior wall of the building and extending to its connection with the public sewer." If you are experiencing sewer issues, have it inspected and repaired by a plumber who has a City of Torrance business license. Permits may be required to ensure proper installation of the replacement pipe.

Property Owners' Responsibility

The City of Torrance Municipal Code requires owners of private sewer laterals to maintain their lateral in a properly functioning manner. The proper maintenance of a private sewer lateral is important because the line can clog with roots and frease and may cause a backup inside a home of business. A spill can also result in public and/or environmental health concerns.  Private Property owners are responsible for properly operating and maintaining their private laterals, including the point of connection to the public sewer main line. 


What Causes Tree-Related Sewer Lateral Issues?

Old and rotting clay tile pipe are often the cause of issues. Cracks in the pipe wall, rotting joints, and pipe separations are common in old pipes. These pipes are especially are vulnerable to soil and roots. The City does not remove trees for sewer issues.

How to Maintain a Functional Sewer Lateral

  1. Have your sewer lateral video-inspected and cleaned routinely as necessary. 
  2. Repair or replace deteriorated or damaged lateral pipes as soon as possible. 
  3. Do not plant trees or large shrubs near sewer lateral pipes. 
  4. Never pour grease down a drain. Instead pour into a container, let it cool, and place in the trash. 
  5. Never pour paint or building materials down the drain. 

Permits Required to Repair a Sewer Lateral

  • Construction and Excavation permit is required for work done in the public right-of-way
  • Plumbing permitAlter Building Sewer, is required for repairs from the building line to the property line

Community Develop Department - Building Permits
(310) 618-5910
3031 Torrance Blvd,
Torrance, CA 90503  

Procedure to File a Claim for Sewer Lateral Line Damage

If damage was caused by a City tree, you may file a claim with the City; however, you must follow the claim filing procedure to ensure that your request provides the best available information in its review consideration. Please note, the City does not pay for the replacement of undamaged pipe sections, or system upgrades such as clean-outs or backflow valves.

  • Get a Claim Form
    • Available at the City Clerk's office, located at 3031 Torrance Blvd.
    • Have one mailed to you by calling (310) 618-2950
  • Get at least two written estimates of repair costs, including City permit fees, and attach to the claim form
  • Notify the Streetscape Division at (310) 781-6900 at least 24-hours before work is started to schedule an inspection.
    • Business hours are Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 7:30 to 4:30.
  • After the line has been inspected and photographed, mail or deliver the completed claim form and repair bill to the City Clerk's office
  • If emergency repairs must be made when the Public Works Department is closed, a Public Works Supervisor may be contacted by calling the Torrance Police Department at (310) 328-3456