A sewer lateral connects a property to the public sewer main, which is most often located in the street. The property owner is responsible for maintenance of part of the pipe, and the City is responsible for the other part. The City's part is often called the "branch."
Diagram of a Typical Sewer Lateral and Its Maintenance Responsibilities
When repairing a sewer lateral or installing a new connection, you will need separate permits for the work on private property and for work in the right-of-way. The Bureau of Development Services permits sewer lateral work on private property through plumbing permits (PT Permit). The Bureau of Environmental Services maintains the public sewer system and issues UR and UC permits for work in the right-of-way or in a public easement.
About UR Permits (lateral repair permit)
A UR Permit is required when you need to repair a sewer lateral. For the portion of the repair work in the the public right-of-way or sewer easement, a UR Permit is required. For the portion of the work on private property, a plumbing permit (PT Permit) is required.
Lateral Repairs Require a UR Permit for the Work in the Right-of-Way
Other less common situations in which a UR Permit is needed:
- Repairing a sewer lateral that is connected to a public sewer on private property (usually in a public sewer easement).
- A lateral repair connecting to a City branch in a public alley.
- Repairing a private sewer line in the right-of-way.
About UC Permits (new lateral connections)
A UC Permit is required when your property needs a new connection to the public sewer system. This occurs either when the new sewer lateral connects to an existing public connection – a City branch – or when the new sewer lateral needs to extend from the building all the way to the public sewer main.
A New Lateral Connection to an Existing Branch Requires a UC Permit
Many sewer mains have existing public laterals or branches. Typically, these extend from the sewer main to the curb. If they are in good condition, then a new development can connect directly to the existing branch if you can install the new lateral without an angle in the right-of-way. A UC Permit is required for the work in the right-of-way. A plumbing permit is required for the work on private property.
City staff may be able to help review City records to provide an approximate location of an existing sewer branch, but the information is not guaranteed. Some of Portland’s sewers are more than 100 years old, and many factors can make it difficult to provide exact locations.
A New Lateral Connection to the Public Sewer Main Requires a UC Permit
In situations where no existing public connections exists, new development will require a lateral installed from the building all the way to the public sewer main.
This UC Permit type requires greater application review by City staff and greater construction coordination by the sewer contractor. Excavation in the street increases the need for traffic control and site safety measures. Other important utilities are buried in the street, such as water, gas, and telecommunication service lines and mains. These utilities may need to be relocated or protected during construction.
Depending upon the sewer main’s age, material, size and/or location, UC Permit review staff may need to consult with other City staff to determine if specific permit conditions are required. This could include a pre-construction meeting with inspection staff or having the City maintenance crews install the connection at the main. Additionally, special connection requests require approval from Environmental Services engineering staff. Examples of special connections are a deep connection riser or inside drop in a maintenance hole. Refer to the City Standard Drawings & Details Details P-250 to P-299.
Some rare connections are so risky or complicated that they cannot be permitted under a UC Permit. Connections crossing light rail or streetcar tracks are examples. Contact UR and UC Permitting staff for guidance. A Public Works Permit will likely be needed.
Applying for UR and UC Permits
Sewer contractors typically submit applications for UR and UC permits. The contractor doing the work is required to sign the permit application even if they are not submitting it. Sewer contractors must have an active license from the Oregon Construction Contractors Board and active PBOT Street Use Insurance and Bond to work in the right-of-way.
Applications for UR Permits for lateral repairs can usually be reviewed in 1-2 business days. Following payment, Environmental Services staff will email your permit to you.
Applications for UC Permits requesting connections to existing branches can typically be reviewed in 1-2 business days. Environmental Services staff will email your permit to you.
Applications for UC Permits requesting connections to a sewer main may take more than 1-2 business days to review. If you are requesting to connect to larger, older, or clay sewer mains or if the connection requires an inside drop or deep connection riser, application review will take longer. Your permit may require special conditions such as a preconstruction meeting, right-of-way inspection staff being present during the tap or tee install, or the conditions may require that City crews install the connection at the main.
No work may start until Environmental Services has issued the UR or UC Permit.
Frequently Asked Questions About the UR and UC Permitting Process
How do I pay for and get an issued UR or UC Permit by email?
Permitting staff will email you payment information so you can pay at DevHub. After payment, you reply using the email thread that you’ve paid, and staff will email to you the issued permit.
How do I call for an inspection once I have my issued permit?
PBOT right-of-way inspectors will inspect the lateral work and surface restoration. When you are ready for inspection, call the inspection phone number on your issued permit and leave a voicemail with your:
- UR or UC Permit Number
- Property address
- Requested time of inspection
- Phone number for the onsite contact
What if there’s an error on my issued permit?
Contact the UR and UC Permitting Team to request corrections and get an updated permit.
Will my permit expire and can I get a refund if the work is cancelled?
UR and UC permits expire 180 days after they are issued. Extensions of up to an additional 180 days can be requested prior to the permit’s expiration date.
For refunds, applicants can get an 80 percent refund of Environmental Services' fees (per City Administrative Rule ENB-4.29). Refund requests must include a copy of the signed contract with the property owner that pre-dates the permit application.
What other City bureaus may be involved or require permits?
- For sewer work on private property you’ll need a plumbing permit (PT Permit). Contact Development Services Trades Permits.
- For sewer work crossing a water main or within 5-feet of a water pipe, the Portland Water Bureau will need to approve a Utility Protection Plan. Find more information at Portland Water Bureau Utility Protection Plan.
- To close a sidewalk or street, reserve parking, or for other uses of the right-of-way, contact staff in Temporary Street Use Permitting.
- For work impacting a tree – particularly a street tree – contact Urban Forestry for a tree permit.
UR and UC Permit Fees
|When is fee charged?||Fee description||Fee in effect until|
June 30, 2024
|All UR and UC Permits||BES Sewer Connection Permit||$320|
|All UR and UC Permits||PBOT – TR-Insurance & Bond Processing Fee||$48.06|
|A UC Permit requesting to connect to public sewer main. Tap or tee fitting installed by contractor.||BES Sewer Tap (by Contractor)||$280|
|A UC Permit requiring PBOT Bureau of Maintenance (BOM or ESD_MO) to install a tap or tee/wye fitting at sewer main. (BES approval required.)||BES Sewer Tap or Wyes/Tees (by BOM)||$485|
|A UC Permit requesting to install standard maintenance hole (MH).||Installation of standard MH||$570|
- Environmental Services Sewer Connection and Lateral Repair Permitting Administrative Rule ENB-4.17 and City Code Chapter 17.32 Public Sewer and Drainage System Permits, Connections and Maintenance provide complete details of UR and UC permitting.
- Environmental Services rules for using Cured-in-Place-Pipe Lining (CIPP) technology for lateral repairs are available at ENB-4.33 - Administrative Rules for Use of CIPP Lining in Privately Maintained Pipe in the Public Right-of-Way. Contractors wanting to repair laterals using CIPP technology must apply to become approved installers and work per ENB-4.33. If you are using CIPP technology, an as-built form is needed along with other requirements.
- The Sewer and Drainage Facilities Design Manual provides information and guidance for designing public sewer and drainage facilities. The sections most applicable to sewer lateral work are:
- Chapter 4.2 Pipe Materials
- Table 4-1A (Gravity Sewer – Standard Pipeline and Joint Materials);
- Table 4-1B (General Pipeline Service Conditions and Material Suitability);
- Chapter 4.6 Maintenance Hole Location and Design
- Chapter 4.6.7 Inside Drop Maintenance Hole Connection (Standard Detail P-253)
- Chapter 5.6 (Design Criteria for Laterals)
- Figure 5-1 Lateral Horizontal Alignment
- Figure 5-5 for Share Wye Connection… (City Wye)
- Section 5.7 Deep Connection Riser (DCR) requirements
- Chapter 4.2 Pipe Materials
- City Standard Drawings & Details are construction drawings created by the City to clarify and explain how specific construction items are to be built.
- P-262for Sewer Service Laterals
- P-101 for Pipe Bedding and Backfill
- P-257 for Sewer Lateral Cleanout
- P-253 for Inside Drop Connection for MH (with Drop Bowl)
- P-250 for PVC Deep Connection Riser
- P-150 for Precast Concrete MH and P-151 for MH Cast-in-Place Base & Precast Base Slab.
- City of Portland Standard Construction Specification 2020 (SCS). The section most applicable to UR and UC permitting is PART 00400 - DRAINAGE AND SEWERS.
- View City GIS maps of public sewers and most public water assets. After inputting the property address, scroll down to the Utilities section. Click on the “Sewer Assets” button, and sewers will be displayed on the map. Click on the sewer asset on the map and get its data such as pipe size, material, depth, age, and past video inspections.
- View historic plumbing records providing information about lateral connections from decades ago. After inputting the property address, scroll down and click on the “Permits” button. Available historic plumbing records will be listed.
- Need a PBOT Permit to pothole utilities? PBOT's Utility Permitting Environmental Assessment Program provides information on requirements and applications for right-of-way potholing permits.
Property Owner Resources
- Exploring Your Connection to the City Sewer. Research your property at PortlandMaps and at Multnomah County online.
- Learn About Nonconforming Sewers.
- Learn about Broken Sewer and Drain Lines from building to the public sewer main.
- Learn about the Mandatory Sewer Program and getting assistance to convert from a septic system.
- Finding a Sewer Contractor