Laterals 101

Separating Avon Lake sewers. For the last two decades, Avon Lake Regional Water has been separating Avon Lake’s sewers. Why? To keep untreated wastewater from discharging into Lake Erie or into basements during rain events. Disgusting, right? (Keep reading for more on why that happens.)

Most of these “separations”–which means an additional, “separate” sewer has been built beside the original combined sewer line–are now complete. The final ones, ending with the area in Avon Lake knows as “The 45,” will be complete by 2020.

Have a home older than 1972? We need to come see your house.

Everyone who owns a home built before 1972 should call us at 440-933-6226 to schedule a free inspection so we can try to determine their home’s compliance with new requirements designed to help keep Lake Erie cleaner now and in the future. Before we talk about those requirements, let’s take a quick look at how sewers work, what a “lateral” actually is, and how laterals and separated sewers will help keep Lake Erie cleaner.

My dirty water goes WHERE? As in most cities across the U.S., when Avon Lake sewers were first built, protecting natural resources like Lake Erie was not a priority. The first sewers in Avon Lake were built when combined sewers were standard practice. Homes on combined sewers were built with one “lateral,” a drain that transports all the water from that home to the sewer under the street. In combined sewer neighborhoods, this single lateral takes both clean water (like rain water from foundation drains and downspouts) and dirty water (from sinks, toilets and showers) to the combined sewer line. The problem with these old combined sewer lines is, upon reaching full capacity (reached during storms), they were designed to jettison their contents (rain water plus raw sewage) into Lake Erie so it didn’t get pushed backwards into basements.

Unfortunately, these combined sewer overflows are now illegal, which is why we’ve told the Environmental Protection Agency we will cease ours by 2020. This agreement with the EPA is officially called our long-term control plan, and many other cities across the country have one as well. Over the next decades, each of us need to be mindful of and work to reduce our negative impact on the environment to protect our water supply.

The U.S. Clean Water Act saves Lake Erie. It wasn’t until waterways started catching fire and fish kills littered U.S. beaches that the Clean Water Act was created and passed into law. This 1972 legislation helped make separated sewers the new standard in housing construction. Since then, all Avon Lake homes have been built with two laterals running to separate sewers. (Separated sewer neighborhoods have two sewers running under each street instead of one. One takes all the homes’ wastewater to the treatment plant to be cleaned, the other takes all the storm water from foundation drains, downspouts and roadside storm drains to Lake Erie.)

Your part in keeping Lake Erie clean. So, now that you’ve got the background, here’s what every home in Avon Lake built before 1972 is required to do: Make sure the clean and dirty water coming from your home is separated. For most folks that need to make this happen, they’ll do so by adding a lateral to their home.

Your project_before and after

Even if your street sewer has already been separated, you still need to call us at 440-933-6226 for an inspection. We’ll come out and get you on the road to compliance. If your home is on a slab and/or you’ve had sewer work done in the last 10 years, you may already be in compliance. Call us to make sure. Some homes’ records are incomplete or nonexistent. If this is the case for your home, you may need to hire a contractor to put a video camera into your home’s existing lateral to see where your water is going. Note: During sewer separations prior to 2013, we suggested, but did not require, residents to install their own laterals. Unfortunately, the rainstorms of the last few years have shown status quo will not be enough; all formerly combined sewer homes now need to reroute water from their foundation drains (and any other remaining clean-water sources) out of the sanitary sewer.

If it turns out your water still needs to be separated, here’s what’s next for you.

Next steps. After you’ve gotten your inspection from us, if you’re not doing the job yourself, call a contractor. (Find a list of the contractors who attended our briefing at Depending on each home’s unique situation, some homeowners will install a new lateral, others will choose to re-route their clean-water sources to their yards. If you are building a new lateral, the no-cost rehab permit you/your contractor applies for from us will be the cue for our construction partner to connect your new lateral to the newly separated sewer—or, for us to inspect it after your contractor does. No matter what, we are available to you throughout the process. Don’t hesitate to call us at any time, for any reason. Here’s a look at the places across Avon Lake we’re talking about, and when they’ll need to have their water separated and connected to the appropriate sewers.

Belmar Artsdale, Ashwood, Belmar, parts of Electric, parts of Lake, Mooreland, parts of Redwood. Construction completed 2013; Connection deadline: November 30, 2018

Moorewood Beachwood, Crestwood, Parkwood, Moorewood, parts of Electric, parts of Redwood, Vinewood. Construction completed 2015; Connection deadline: November 30, 2018

Mull-Norman Mull, Norman. Construction completed 2016. Connection deadline: November 30, 2018

Avondale Avondale; Construction TBD; Connection deadline: November 30, 2019

Fairfield/Brookfield Berkshire, Brookfield, Fairfield, Inwood (north of Redwood), parts of Lake, parts of Electric. Construction completed 2018; Connection deadline: June 30, 2019.

Curtis Curtis; Connection deadline: June 30, 2019

The 45 Forest, Grove, Lakeview, Lakewood, Oakwood, South Point, Tomahawk. Construction 2017-2019; Connection deadline: November 30, 2019

Formerly combined neighborhoods that have until November 30, 2018 to separate their water. These streets include: Avon Belden (south of Redwood), Bellaire, Burton, Cherry, Dellwood, Drummond, Duff, Electric (parts), Glenview, Harvey, Inwood (south of Redwood), James, Jaycox, June, Lake (parts), Lear, Miller, Moore, Mull, Norman, Parkview, Redwood (parts), West Shore, Woodstock (south of Electric), Yoder, York.

Formerly combined neighborhoods that have until June 30, 2019 to separate their water. These streets include: Avon Belden (north of Redwood), Beachdale, Beck, Curtis, Fay, Forest Hill, Groveland, Hermann, Karen, Sunset, Vanda, Vineyard, Woodstock (Electric to Lake).


Thanks for helping us keep Lake Erie clean.

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