When there’s a blockage in the sewer system, is the property owner responsible for clearing it? Or is it the borough?
The Sussex Borough Council on March 15 unanimously adopted an ordinance answering that question.
● The borough is responsible for maintaining, repairing, and replacing the existing sewer lateral, according to the new ordinance.
● The property owner is responsible for maintaining, repairing, and replacing the existing house connection, the portion extending from the house to the curb line or property line, whichever is further. If there is no curb line or property line, the property owner is responsible for the connection all the way to the public sewer main.
“Once it crosses that line, it’s the borough’s responsibility,” Borough Attorney Francis McGovern said on March 1.
The new ordinance also requires property owners to fix leaks in the house connection and otherwise keep it in good working order.
Property owners are responsible for fixing backup from their property into the sewer main. But Councilman Mario Poggi said on March 1 he was concerned about backups from the mains going the other way, into people’s homes, as happened when Superstorm Sandy overwhelmed the system.
“I don’t want to see homeowners saddled with costs because our system backed up and there’s nothing wrong with his lateral because we have so much more water because of a hurricane or something,” Poggi said.
But on March 15, Mayor Edward Meyer said, “If you plug the line, you’re responsible” for clearing it.
The council members tweaked the ordinance’s language before adoption, changing “check valve” to “flow control valve,” and “shall” to “should” in the list of responsibilities.