Gulfport started a sewer lateral line rebate program in 2018 that benefits homeowners up to 50 percent for their complete replacement costs to a maximum of $3,500. The program has been extended once and city officials expect it to happen again in April.
As of the beginning of March 2019, a total of 19 homeowners had qualified for a total of $52,329.11 in rebates ranging from a low of $1,650 to the maximum for individual residences. In the current program, $75,170.89 remains.
According to city documentation, residential sewer customers are eligible for a rebate of up to 50 percent of their total costs to a maximum of $3,500 “after the replacement, purchase, installation and inspection of a failing sewer lateral” are completed between their home and the city’s connection.
All sewer lateral replacements must be permitted through the city’s Community Development Department, said Public Works Director Tom Nicholls. Spot and partial repairs are not eligible.
“It was originally a six-month program,” said Nicholls. “We had quite a bit of money left so at the end of October 2018, we sent a letter to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection asking for an additional six-month extension.
“The program is going along very well. At the end of April 2019 when I have to give another update, we will ask for another six-month extension.”
In Gulfport, a lateral is a pipeline that connects a residential single-family, owner-occupied home located on private property to the public sewer system. In Gulfport, private property owners are responsible for the maintenance of private lateral lines.
A main goal of the program, according to city documentation, is to reduce the amount of private property ground and surface water called “inflow and infiltration” that enters into the city’s sanitary sewer system to reduce daily capacity issues in addition to what occurs during extreme weather events.
Typical sources of inflow and infiltration from laterals include pipe cracks or failures due to aging infrastructure or root damage; leaking pipe joints; improperly installed, damaged or missing cleanout caps; and illicit connections of roof or yard drains and sump pumps.
In addition to causing excessive flows to the public sewer system and subsequently to the wastewater treatment plant, inflow and infiltration in private laterals can also cause sewer backups into buildings resulting in property damage, health risks and environmental issues.
Accurately measuring the amount of inflow and infiltration from private laterals is difficult because installing flow meters at all connection points would be cost prohibitive. Therefore, much of the data available is based on estimated flows.
To get started with the program, residents “need to fill out the application form through the Building Department,” said Nicholls. Once everything is approved, a reimbursement check is cut within 30 days.
For more information and to access an application, visit mygulfport.us/lateralrebate.