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Upcoming “Call for Action” on RSVD Sewer Lateral Point of Sale Pressure Test

Good day MAR Members!

I hope you all had a fun Halloween. Congratulations to our 2014 World Champion San Francisco Giants! What a series, what a week! MadBum fever all around. Now that the season and the parade is over, we can get back to the business of Marin Real Estate. I’m personally wondering what to do with all the “found time” I now won’t be scheduling my life around Giants viewing plans.


We continue to work to help the Ross Valley Sanitary District (RVSD) understand some of the issues that the REALTOR community has with its soon-to-be-rolled-out sewer lateral ordinance. It is currently scheduled to go into effect on January 1, which is less than two months away. In practice, the ordinance will have many similarities to the already-existing ordinances in Sausalito and Belvedere.

One big difference, and one that MAR has been opposing since the very first day we saw the ordinance, is the requirement for a “pressure test” on every sewer line, even before a camera goes down. Ross Valley Sanitary’s own engineers estimate that between 85-90% of the laterals will fail this pressure test. Several plumbers I’ve spoken with said every inspection would fail. If you fail the pressure test, the next step is a camera inspection…like we do now.

Why can’t we just have everyone do the camera inspection first? The reason the pressure test is so cumbersome is because the whole line needs to be “plugged”, including cleanouts…and buried cleanouts. How many times do you learn of a buried cleanout in the yard somewhere? Well, now, those will have to be “unburied” and plugged.

I’m also not sure why, in the middle of a drought, we will be wasting thousands and thousands of gallons of water on these tests.

The net is that this will go from a 30-minute meeting for the camera inspection to a 2-3 hour meeting for the pressure test. The best guess of cost I’m getting for these pressure tests is $600-1000. At 600+ sales per year in Ross Valley, this will cost the community $500,000 +/- to do these pressure tests…every year…

Money that could be spent fixing pipes. Think about it, after 4 years, ratepayers and citizens of the Ross Valley will have spent $2 million dollars on a frivolous test. How many thousands of feet of sewer line could that $2 million go towards? It’s a horrible waste of the public’s money.

I went and shared this rationale and math last month at the RVSD Board meeting. I got 3 minutes of “public time” to get through this. I suggested to them that we wanted to have some time at the next meeting on the agenda so we could all discuss this.

They did not put us on the agenda for the next meeting.

Remember, when the Board of Directors of Ross Valley Sanitary District originally passed this ordinance, they did not seek MAR’s input, nor the public’s input. They quietly put it on the agenda for the next meeting on a Friday, and voted on the ordinance the following Wednesday with zero input from stakeholders and the public.

We’ve been working with them ever since, to improve the ordinance. To its credit, RVSD has made some modifications to its ordinance based upon MAR’s recommendations. But they’ve steadfastly held on to this pressure test, and it’s pretty clear that they want to keep it. At least the staff does; I’m pretty sure the Board doesn’t really know what this whole pressure test business is all about.

So MAR is going to ask you, our members, to join the fight against this frivolous pressure test. MAR supports fixing our aging sewer infrastructure in a responsible manner. RVSD needs to do the same by being a good steward of the public’s money and remove the pressure test.

Tomorrow, MAR will be sending you a “call for action” to kick this off. It will be a simple “click here” type of email campaign to all the RVSD Board members.

I will keep you informed of the status of this effort. Thank you in advance for your participation in this very important campaign.


One of the most important responsibilities you have as a citizen and as a REALTOR is to go vote tomorrow, if you haven’t already. MAR and CAR have endorsed the following candidates and positions on Statewide and Countywide measures:

  • US Congress
    • Jared Huffman
  • State Assembly
    • Marc Levine
  • State Senate
    • Mike McGuire
  • Marin Hospital Board
    • Dr. Larry Bedard