6969-236TH Avenue, Paddock Lake, Wisconsin 53168




Dear Resident,

         The Village Sanitary Sewer Utility District is providing residents with this notice after an alarming increase in private sewer lateral blockages and broken, fractured lateral pipe materials. In the past eighteen (18) months, the Village has become aware of several private sanitary sewer laterals that have developed obstructions that have led to breaks and separation of pipe joints within private laterals, these obstructions and breaks have resulted in sewer water backing up into residential and business properties.

The Village Utility believes that the increase in the number of failing sewer laterals is in part due to the age of private laterals, type of lateral pipes, foreign material and tree root intrusion.  

The following further addresses concerns and questions residents may have pertaining to private sewer laterals, this notice, and the possible cause of private lateral failures.:

Why is there a sudden increase of blocked and broken sewer laterals?

A: 1) With the increased use of sanitary wipes being flushed down toilets, the Village Utility and sewer drain cleaning contractors have found that the cloth type wipes snag on the interior of private cast iron laterals creating a blockage.

2) National studies report that sewer collection systems that have been subject to droughts often tend to have advanced tree root intrusion into sanitary sewer collection systems and private sewer laterals. USDA and NOAA reported in June of 2022, that Southeast Wisconsin experienced severe drought conditions from late 2020 through mid-2022.

3) Approximately 800 private laterals serving Village properties are of the Cast Iron type pipe, the life expectancy of cast iron pipe is typically 50 to 60 years. The majority of these 800 cast iron laterals were installed between 1969 to 1973.

Who owns and or is responsible for maintaining and repairing private sewer laterals?

A: All sanitary sewer laterals are owned by the property owner that the private lateral serves. This responsibility includes maintenance and or replacement of laterals due to pipe damage.


What is a private sanitary sewer lateral?

A: A private lateral is that part of a buildings plumbing system which extends from the home/building to the Village public sewer collection system in the road.   

What are the private sewer laterals in the Village constructed of (pipe material)?

A: Based on the age of the buildings and sewer laterals, the pipe material could be Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Cast Iron, Ductile Iron or Vitrified clay pipe. There are 1,450 private sewer laterals connecting properties to the Village sewer collection system, of the 1,450 laterals, Village records show that 878 private laterals are cast iron and clay pipe, the remaining 572 laterals are known to be constructed with PVC material.

What is the average life expectancy of private sewer laterals?

A: Based on material type and age, there are several factors which can influence the life span of a sewer lateral including: age, pipe material, ground conditions, tree root intrusion, chemicals used to clean, and water softener brine from softener backwashing.

How do tree roots get into sewer laterals?

A: Tree roots grow into sewer laterals when sewer pipes develop cracks, joint separation or damage from clogs. Roots rapidly grow into laterals seeking moisture and nutrients.

If a Village owned and managed Right-of-Way tree causes root intrusion or damage to a private sewer lateral, who is responsible for removal of roots or repairing damaged private sewer laterals? 

A: Property owners are responsible for maintenance and repairing private sewer laterals. This is true even if the source of tree root intrusion is partly or entirely from trees growing in public rights-of-way or neighboring properties. Pursuant to Village Ordinance 7.61 (c) 8.

How would I know if the lateral serving my home is damaged or impacted with tree roots?

A: The property owner may notice or be experiencing slow drains and or backups of sewer waste from the home.

What do I do if I am having problems with my sewer lateral?

A: The first step would be to hire a plumbing contractor or sewer drain cleaning company. The contractor will investigate the problem, if the issue is a simple blockage, the contractor will clean by rodding or jetting the lateral to remove the blockage. If the contractor believes that a structural defect exists, your hired contractor will advise the property owner of repair options.

What are the chances my sewer lateral will fail or need repairs and replacement?

A: With 60% of existing private sewer laterals being 50 years old, it is very likely that these sewer laterals are reaching their life expectancy. 

How can the life of a private sewer lateral be extended?

A: There are several factors that will impact how long sewer laterals will last, some of the things property owners can do to prolong the life expectancy of cast iron and clay sewer laterals are:

  • Having the pipes positioned in well drained and properly compacted soils is a very important part of below grade plumbing pipe longevity. Because you as the resident have no control over the mechanics of lateral instillation that occurred 50 plus years ago, this statement is for information purposes.
  • Being aware of what gets introduced into your sewer will prevent blockages. Flushing cloth or cloth type wipes, feminine hygiene products, oils, food grease and other non-flushable items should never be introduced into sewers.
  • The use of harsh cleaners and other chemicals used to clean building and sewer drains, often deteriorate cast iron laterals.
  • The introduction of undiluted water softener brine. Water softeners discharge chloride (salt) brine into building and sewer drains, if these brine wastes are allowed to settle or sit for any extended period of time in a cast iron laterals the cast iron lateral is likely to rapidly corrode and fail. It is recommended that water softeners be optimized to reduce how often softeners backwash and discharge.
  • Recommendation, all older laterals (50 years) should be cleaned (rodded) every 2 to 3 years, included in this preventative maintenance plan older laterals should be televised for inspection purposes.

Does the Village or Village Sewer Utility District provide financial assistance to property owners for lateral repair or replacement?

A: Unfortunately, NO, the Village does not provide financial assistance to property owners. The responsibility for maintenance of private laterals is the property owner’s responsibility. Pursuant to Village Ordinance 7.61 (c) 8.

Does my homeowner’s insurance cover costs associate with lateral repairs?

A: The Village is aware that most insurance companies do provide “Service Line Coverage”, some insurance companies include said Service Line Coverage while others require the coverage to be added to homeowners policies by way of a rider. The Village recommends all property owners check with their insurance agents regarding the availability of Service Line Coverage.