Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is there any cost for inspections?
There is no charge to property owners for inspections completed during this program if the inspections are conducted by the City or the City's engineer (typical). Property owners have the option to hire a private plumber to complete their inspection, in which case the plumber's fees would be at property owner's expense.
How long does an inspection take?
A typical inspection is completed in under 15 minutes. Many are complete in about 5 minutes.
What about my privacy?
The inspector will be looking specifically for improper connections to the sanitary sewer, and will not be looking for anything else in your home.
I don't have a sump pump. Do I still need an inspection?
Yes, in the interest of fairness to all residents, all selected buildings will be inspected regardless of whether a sump pump is present.
Is it mandatory to conduct an inspection?
Yes, it is mandatory to complete an inspection. The City recently amended Chapter 3 of the Municipal Code of Ordinances allowing the City to verify compliance with plumbing code and verify no clear water connections to the sanitary sewer are present. In any event, it’s the neighborly thing to do to make sure your sump pump isn’t going into the sanitary sewer because your pumpage may end up in someone’s basement as overflow.
What is the inspection looking for?
In general, the inspector will be looking to verify that sump pumps, roof drains, and other clear water sources are not connected to the sanitary sewer system, or have the potential to do so.
When will I have my inspection?
In 2021 Southwest Austin — generally south of Oakland Avenue West and southwest of Turtle Creek — will be inspected. In past years, other properties in the Southeast and inner Southwest were completed, and all other areas of Austin will be inspected in the following years.
The Southwest area will be separated into approximately three equal sectors, designated by color (red, yellow, and green), to stagger inspection times throughout 2021.
You will be contacted by letter to inform you of your sector color and to invite you to schedule your inspection. The letter will include a unique login user name and password for the scheduling website. You can search for your property on this
to determine which sector you are in.
How do I schedule an inspection?
Can I hire a licensed plumber to do the inspection?
Yes. You may hire a licensed plumber to conduct the inspection. Inspection forms are available at City Hall. The plumber's fees to conduct the inspection will be at the Owner's expense. The completed form must be signed by a licensed plumber and returned to City Hall.
What is the penalty if you discover my sump pump isn't compliant?
There is no penalty if your sump pump isn't compliant during the initial inspection. We will require that the plumbing be corrected and reinspected.
How much will it cost to make the corrections to be compliant?
The cost to correct plumbing will vary depending on the work to be performed. The majority of repairs, if needed, will be for relatively minor changes that can often be done by the homeowner with materials purchased at a hardware store for under $100. Sometimes there are situations that require more complicated work. Installation of new sump pit and pump systems, or connecting to subdrain, could be in the range of approximately $750 - $2,000. Every case will be different. We encourage you to seek advice from a licensed plumber or underground contractor if considering any major corrections. All work must be done in compliance with the current Universal Plumbing Code (UPC) and City Ordinances.
Will the City require me to install a sump pump?
The City will not require you to install a sump pump if there are not any potential clear water connections to the sanitary sewer. However, if you have a beaver drain (seepage collection system), roof drain, driveway drain, existing sump pit with no pump or other clear water connection that is currently draining by gravity into your floor drain (sanitary sewer), you may need to install a sump pump to redirect the clear water to the exterior of the building in order to be compliant.
Do I have to hire a plumber to make the corrections?
No. The majority of repairs, if needed, will be for relatively minor changes such as replacing flexible hose with rigid pipe within the building, or filling in an unused pit, or similar. Replacing flexible hose with rigid pipe or filling in an unused pit within a typical home can often be done by the homeowner with materials purchased at a hardware store. Sometimes there are situations that require more complicated work. If, for example, a homeowner wishes to install a new sump pit where there wasn't one before, or connect the discharge underground to storm subdrain, that could involve the work of a licensed plumber and/or underground contractor. Every case will be different. We encourage you to seek advice from a licensed plumber or underground contractor if considering any major corrections. All work, regardless of who performs the work, must be done in compliance with the current Universal Plumbing Code (UPC) and City Ordinances.
What if I refuse to have the inspection done?
A $100 monthly 'clear water' surcharge will be applied to your utility bill until an inspection is completed to verify that no clear water connections are present within your home or building.
What should be hooked to the sanitary sewer and what should be to the storm sewer? (basically, what's the difference?)
Great question! There are two types of sewer systems running down each public street serving the homes and businesses on that block: Sanitary Sewer, and Storm Sewer. The sanitary sewer is intended to take dirty wastewater from our daily lives and convey it to the City's wastewater treatment plant. The wastewater treatment plant sends the wastewater through an extensive series of mechanical, chemical, and biological purification processes before discharging it into the environment. On the other hand, Storm Sewer is intended to take relatively clean rain water and ground water ('clear water') and convey it to the river with minimal treatment. The Sanitary Sewer, and Storm Sewer systems are two separate piping systems that should remain separate. If storm water gets into the sanitary sewer, it causes backups, overflows, and extra cost to the sewer rate payers to upsize the sanitary sewer to convey the excess clear water that didn't need to be in the sanitary system to begin with.
In short, here are the items that should go into the sanitary sewer, and storm sewer systems:
Sanitary: toilets, showers, dishwashers, washing machines, and other 'dirty' water generated from our daily lives. Small volumes of furnace or dehumidifier condensate and water softener backwash are ok going into the sanitary sewer.
Storm: rain water and ground water from sump pumps, beaver drains (seepage collection systems), roof drains, gutters, exterior driveway or sidewalk drains, etc. Pools should be emptied into the storm sewer after being dechlorinated.
Some examples of proper and improper hookups are included in the public meeting presentation linked on the Notices page on this site.
Please see the Notices page for more examples.
Can my basement floor drain be hooked into the sanitary sewer?
Yes, your basement floor drain is supposed to hook into the sanitary sewer.
Will my neighbor now be dumping all of their water into the yard and running onto my property?
In most cases, your neighbor should be able to direct his/her discharge so it does not impact your property or the public right-of-way. City Ordinance requires no discharge to be directed in a way that impacts neighboring properties or any city street, sidewalk or right-of-way.