Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs)

Sewer Spill Prevention
Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) are sewer spills. Roots, grease, or other debris blocking the sewer pipe can cause SSOs. SSOs can result in the contamination of home, streets, and storm drains that flow directly to the bay and beaches.

Restaurants and other commercial establishments that can discharge fats, oils, grease, and other detrimental materials are routinely inspected to ensure that these discharges do not cause SSOs.
sewer overflow.JPG
Reporting Sewage Spills
If you see or smell a possible sewage spill, please contact the City's Public Services Utilities Division to report the incident as soon as possible! This is particularly important if the spill occurs in a public area or if the sewage flows into surface water (e.g. streams, ocean, or a storm sewer drain).

Please have an accurate location of the spill ready when reporting to the City. The quicker a sewer spill is responded to, the less of a threat to the environment and human health it becomes.

Who to Call
  • During normal business hours, call 805-772-6261
  • Outside of normal business hours, call 805-772-6225
Please Report Overflows on Private Property
Sewage backups within homes or on private property are usually the responsibility of the property owner. In these situations, you should call a plumber and the City's Public Services Utilities Division.

Protect Your Sewer Lateral
The line running from your home out into the street is referred to as a sewer lateral. This lateral is the property of, and the responsibility of, the homeowner. If your lateral is improperly maintained, it can lead to costly repairs and sewer spills. Maintaining the sewer lateral is the responsibility of the property owner.

The sewer lateral should never be broken or cut in order to connect a gutter or drain, or to run a plumbers snake. Tree roots, excessive amounts of water, or contaminants can enter through a break, creating maintenance, health, and environmental problems.

Before Snaking Your Sewer Lateral
The City is happy to provide its residents with information on installing backflow prevention devices and clean-outs, as time permits.

Residents should notify the City in advance when planning to have roots cleared from a sewer lateral. The crew can monitor the main sewer and remove any root balls cut free from your sewer lateral, preventing the material from clogging the main sewer pipeline. The crews can also answer any questions relating to sewer line problems.

Please call 805-772-6277 during normal business hours.
sewer lateral.JPG
If Your Building Faces a Steep Road
Homes and buildings, which front a steep road, run the risk of sewer back-flow. You can call the City's Waste Water Utilities Division to help determine whether your property includes a proper backwater valve device and if 1 is needed.

Protect Your Health
Although domestic sewage is almost 99% water, a large number of disease-causing bacteria and viruses can be present. The following recommendations are made to protect your health if a sewage spill occurs.

Avoid Contact With Sewage Spills
Individuals not involved in the cleanup of the site, should remain out of the area, if possible until the contamination has been removed and the area disinfected. It is particularly important that children stay away.

Hygiene is Essential
If your skin comes into contact with sewage, it is essential to immediately clean the affected areas thoroughly with soap and warm water. This is particularly important before eating or preparing food.

Your skin is a very good barrier against germs and disease. Skin contact with sewage does not usually pose a serious health problem. However, disease-causing organisms can enter the body through cuts or sores on the skin, through splashes into the eyes and mouth, or by eating food or water contaminated by dirty hands.

See your health care professional if a wound becomes red and infected after contact with sewage.

Immunizations are usually not necessary following exposure to sewage. However, it is a good idea to check with your health care professional about tetanus vaccination if you have received a puncture wound (e.g. stood on a nail), or if a wound is contaminated with sewage.

Additional Resources