Frequently Asked Questions
COVID-19 Information re: USD's Administrative Offices
Link to information about USD's Operations and Permit Counter Services during the regional shelter-in-place order.
What are your office hours?
USD is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The customer service counter is open during lunchtime hours. Our facility is staffed 24/7/365 for plant operations and to respond to emergencies.
How do I locate my lateral?
Your home may have one of the following: A cleanout just outside of the building or just behind the sidewalk on your property which may be marked with the letter “S” or word “SEWER” on the cover; or there may may be an “S” stamped on the curb in front of your property (we have observed that the "S" does not always accurately mark the lateral location.) Some older homes may not have any cleanouts or markings to help locate your lateral. Please call (510) 477-7500 or send an email to ContactUSD@unionsanitary.ca.gov and we may be able to provide an approximate location.
Do you have a list of approved Plumbers/Contractors?
USD does not keep a list of approved or recommended plumbers and contractors. You may check the local Better Business Bureau, on-line reviews, or a friend or acquaintance for any recommendations. USD does recommend that you get a price quote from at least three different licensed and bonded plumbers or contractors.
How do I start or stop service?
Service is never turned on or off. The lateral to the property is connected to our sewer system and does not require a phone call to Union Sanitary District to start or stop service. If you have a septic tank on the property that is in use to collect wastewater, you are NOT connected to the sanitary sewer system. If you wish to abandon the septic tank and connect to our system, contact USD regarding requirements and fees.
How do I put my sewer bill in my name?
You do not need to take any action to put your sewer bill in your name. USD's sewer service charge is a line item on your annual property tax bill, and you will not receive a separate bill from USD. The tax bill with our fees included is sent to the registered owner of the property.
What is a sewer service charge?
A Sewer Service Charge is the annual fee that encompasses the cost for USD to collect, transport, treat and dispose of wastewater from each property in Fremont, Newark and Union City that is connected to our system.
How am I billed for sewer service charges?
Annual Sewer Service Charges are placed on your Alameda County property tax statement. The charges appear on the tax statement as a line item next to our phone number 477-7500, and are listed as "Union Sewer Svc." Sewer Service Charges are not a property tax and are not related to the assessed value of a property. They represent a charge for a service provided, similar to your telephone and PG & E bills. We simply include the yearly charges on property tax statements to save the administrative cost of generating and mailing our own invoices. More details about how the charges are calculated are provided below.
How are my sewer service charges calculated?
Charges for residential customers are based on a flat rate using a two-tiered system. Charges for Commercial and Industrial customers are based on volume and pollutant strength of the wastewater being treated. Please see our How Sewer Service Charges Are Calculated page for more details.
How does my rate compare to other sewer service charges in the area?
We annually survey 26 Bay Area wastewater agencies and communities, comparing our residential sewer service charges to ensure that we're giving our customers a competitive rate. See our Sewer Service Charges page for more information.
How do I obtain a Demolition permit?
Click here for instructions to apply for a Demolition permit and for contact information.
I’m repairing/replacing the sewer on my property. Why do I need to obtain a sewer permit?
While the sanitary sewer is the property owner’s responsibility, any repair or replacement has to comply with USD Specifications. This is to ensure that USD sanitary sewer system integrity is not breached or compromised. Poorly constructed sanitary sewers may cause sewer backups and overflows that cause property damage and pose a health risk.
Who is responsible for my sewer lateral from the sidewalk into the street?
Each property owner is responsible for the entire sewer from the house to where it connects to USD's main sewer line. This includes both the sewer on private property and the lateral located beneath the sidewalk and street.
I found an old capped sewer lateral at my property; can I connect to it?
Connection to an old capped lateral may be made provided that it is still connected to the main sewer and is in good condition. A video of the pipe is required to be submitted to USD for review and approval. Any lateral proposed for reuse needs to be brought up to current District standards. Please contact us for a sewer permit.
What is a capacity fee and why do I need to pay it?
All new houses or buildings that connect to USD are required to pay a capacity fee. The capacity fee is a payment for wastewater capacity rights and represents a reimbursement to the District’s ratepayers for providing available capacity to future users of the system.
Is a sewer backflow prevention device (BPD) required to be installed? Do you give free backflow devices?
USD does not generally require sewer BPDs to be installed in every home or property. However, in cases where the home is located in hilly areas, it may be prudent to install a BPD to prevent damage to your property in case of a main sanitary sewer overflow. USD does not supply BPDs, which can be purchased at plumbing supply stores. More information about BPDs can be found at sewersmart.org.
What pipe material can I use to replace my broken sewer lateral?
The following pipe materials may be used to replace your old lateral: PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) SDR 26 or Schedule 40, ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene), or HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) for pipebursting.
Can I get an over-the-counter review of my plans?
We may be able to provide an over-the-counter review of your plans if you are not constructing any sanitary sewer pipe outside of the building. If sewer work is needed outside the building, then a full plan review submittal will be required. If this applies to you, select your project type:
How quickly can I schedule an inspection?
Please notify your USD inspector 48 hours prior to your requested inspection time. The inspector will contact you to confirm an available appointment date and approximate time.
Why did a USD worker put paint on an area in front of my house?
When digging to make sewer repairs, it is very important to know where other utilities are located so that damage can be avoided. Most utility companies belong to a locating service called Underground Service Alert (USA).
Markings by utilities, including USD, locate underground utilities for future work to be done at that location. If you have any questions about USA markings, please call (510) 477-7500 and ask to speak to a Collection Services Supervisor.