On the agenda for Tuesday's City Council meeting is an amendment to the Healsdburg Municipal Code that makes closed-circuit television surveys of home sewer lines required the next time yours backs up, as discussed in this previous Patch article.
Just about everyone has had to deal with the inconvenence of an event like this, but you may find the video survey something new - and even intriguing.
Let's say your sink backs up. Or your bathtub. Or your toilet. When you call the plumbers they come out and run a snake through the lateral line, clear it out, and go on their way.
But once the amendment ordinance to Municipal Code 13/40 goes into effect - if passed on Tuesday, that would be 90 days later, May 19, according to city clerk Maria Curiel - every such incident has to be reported to the city as "sanitary sewage overflow," or SSO. And you, the home owner, face a mandatory video survey and city review of your sewer line, at an additional cost of about $400.
Several local private plumbing companies will come to your house and do a lateral clean-out, including Roto Rooter (433-4737), Regina Plumbing (431-0300) and Garrett's Hardware and Plumbing (433-5593). You can some of these find more in the Patch Directory.
But Miksis Service (433-8053), which does business as Rapid Rooter in Healdsburg, is the only private company in town that currently offers the closed-circuit video survey service.
Miksis will make a video record of the lateral for its length from the clean-out to the sewer (or from the house to the sewer for the full picture). A small camera is put on a flexible hose and sent through the pipe, and a complete visual portrait of the lateral should find any root blockage, slippage of the pipe fittings or outright breaks.
See the accompanying video for an example of a CCTV survey. There is no audio on the video, sorry.
According to Gary Miksis, his company also provides a DVD to the customer, along with a print-out report to the customer, usually for $290. The City of Healdsburg Public Works also performs the video-survey at about the same. Add to that charge the mandatory video review by the city, $79.
While that's not an onerous charge, and provides valuables information any that homeowner would appreciate, the other side of the ordinance is more expensive - possibly much more.
No longer will the city Public Works come and replace the lateral to the sewer line, a process that probably involves some excavation and repaving of the city street. Under the revised code, the entire cost of replacement - including any necessary trenching of the city street - would be borne by the owner.
Costs, of course, would vary depending on the landscape, street surface, and many other variables, but Miksis said a $100/foot estimate would be good starting point for estimating costs. If your lateral line is 40 feet long from your home to the middle of the street, that's roughly $4,000 - or more.
Neither Gary Miksis nor other people contacted in researching this interview were part of the Dec. 16 meeting of contractors and realtors cited in the City's report.
Miksis pointed out another problem with the amendment, as written, when sent a copy by Patch, regarding the qualifying and regulating of the "Sewer Lateral Service Provider" as per the amendment's written definition. Miksis met with Gary Plass to discuss the issue last week.
"I see realistic problems with this," he wrote Patch, "due to the fact that there is no contractor license required from the State of California License Board for either clearing blockages or televising a pipe.
"So to try to regulate a service that is not a contractor classification would be very difficult," he said.
This week's City Council meeting is not on its usual day, Monday, but has been moved to Tuesday because of Presidents' Day. The public session begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall.