We are cleaning and inspecting sewer lines throughout San Francisco. The work is being done by our crews and by contractors working for the SFPUC.
What does sewer cleaning work entail?
Using high pressure water hoses and vacuum trucks, crews flush the pipes and catch basins. Obstructive debris is removed and properly discarded. Sewer lines vary in diameter from a few inches to eight feet. In order to clean the larger lines properly, specially trained crews wearing protective clothing and safety gear may be needed to physically walk the sewer.
How long does it take?
Sewer cleaning work typically takes anywhere from two days to two weeks. To reduce impacts on the community, we might clean several sewer lines on one block at a time.
What should you expect during the cleaning operation?
Sewer service in the area will not be interrupted. Odors may increase temporarily, but will subside once work is completed. If traffic and parking are affected, appropriate controls and signage will be in place. Noise levels will be within the limits imposed by the San Francisco Noise Ordinance.
How about sewer inspection?
Crews inspect the sewer pipes to assess their condition. These inspections will allow the SFPUC to determine whether or not these sewer pipes will need to be repaired or replaced. Inspections could occur in conjunction with or upon completion of sewer cleaning work. You can see our workers use a remote-controlled TV camera roped down the sewer pipes through manholes. These inspections will take any time from a few hours to a few days. Parking and traffic impacts will be minimal in the area, with appropriate controls and signage in place.
Why are we doing this?
It’s part of our regular routine maintenance to ensure a reliable and seismically safe sewer system. More than 70% of San Francisco’s wastewater collection system is over 100 years old, and some portions date back to the Gold Rush! Our combined system consists of 1,000 miles of sewers that transport sanitary flow and storm runoff. After cleaning, all sewer assets (lines, manholes, connections, catch basins, etc.) will be examined, photographed, and mapped to develop repair and replacement plans.
What can you do to help?
Remember the 3Ps: Place only poop, pee, and toilet paper into the sewer. Anything else, even so-called flushable wipes, belongs in the trash. Please remember to also never flush any medications down the toilet - Visit the SF Environment website to learn how to properly dispose medications. If you encounter sewage backing up into the street or into your home report this to 311 so that sewer operations crews can respond appropriately.
To find out night-time sewer (or water) work in your neighborhood, visit our night work webpage.