Rules and Regulations

Governing the Maintenance of the Wastewater Collection Service


Private Sewer Service

All sewers and drains not classified as “public” below. The term shall include (but is not limited to) all building sewers and building drains regardless of length and the fact that portions of such sewers/drains may lie in a public way, from the building to the public sewer main; parking lot drains, and sewers constructed in unaccepted or other private streets or ways.

Public Sewer Main

A pipe or conduit for carrying sanitary sewage industrial wastes, or other polluted drainage, which is controlled by public authority, and in which all owners of abutting properties have equal rights.

Joint Maintenance Agreement

An agreement in writing, on a form approved by the Department of Public Works and recorded in the Registry of Deeds, which defines the liability and maintenance obligations of the owners of a private sewer or drain serving two or more properties through a commonly-shared service leading to a public sewer main.


Registered Licensed Plumber

Drain Clearer

Qualified Contractor for Drain Clearing

Faulty Plumbing

Building plumbing which, as a result of improper installation, age, misuse, neglect, or other cause, no longer performs its intended purpose in a safe and satisfactory manner.

Illegal Plumbing

Building plumbing not installed by a duly registered and licensed installer, installed without proper permits, installed in violation of applicable plumbing codes, not inspected by City Plumbing Inspectors, or in use after having failed to pass such inspection.

C.T.R. (City Tree Roots)

Roots from a tree or trees growing on City property .


Should any provision of these orders and regulations be found to be in conflict or violation of any Federal or State Law, City Ordinance, or if amended or changed by order of the Commissioner of Public Works, all other provisions of these orders and regulations shall remain in full force and effect.

Ownership Policy

Private sewer services are the property and responsibility of the property owner. The entire cost of the construction, installation and maintenance of these services is borne by the property owner (See City Code, Section 16-25 paragraph d). Since the owner has the exclusive right of use of the private sewer service, the City will not issue any connection permits for additional structures on the service without the owner s written consent, as evidenced by a joint maintenance agreement.

Private property owners have no private ownership rights to public sewer mains.

Service Policy

During Regular Office Hours (Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.):

The City will accept blocked drain calls at City Hall (979-1520) from property owners or tenants. A D.P.W. employee will be dispatched to the location. The employee will check the public sewer main to which the building is connected to determine if the problem is in the public sewer main .

If the public sewer main is at fault the employee will notify the property owner and will make arrangements for appropriate corrective action.

If the public sewer main is not at fault, the employee will ask to inspect the basement area to get as much information as possible about the problem. The property owner or tenant will then be advised to make arrangements with a private drain clearing service or licensed plumber to remedy the problem .

The employee will provide the property owner with a copy of these regulations and a list of drain clearers and licensed plumbers who have indicated to the City their ability to handle such work. The list is provided as a convenience only, and does not constitute an endorsement by the City of the firms listed.

If the private drain clearer or licensed plumber cannot clear the line, he or she (and not the property owner or tenant) may contact City Hall (979-1520) for additional help. If it becomes necessary to bring in a City crew to complete the work, all expenses will be billed to the property owner or tenant who signs the work order. Property owners must arrange to have someone on the premises to admit the City crew.

During Evenings Weekends and Holidays:

Same as above except the property owner should contact the City Yard (991 -6133).


If a City crew is called, all costs, except for the initial response by a City inspector, will be billed to the property owner or tenant who signs the work

If the investigating City crew discovers C.T.R. to be the cause of the blockage, the property owner will not be charged for the City s service. However, ongoing maintenance by the City will not be provided. Upon discovery of C.T.R., the owner will be advised to have the pipe dug and a permanent repair made within one year from the date that the tree roots are discovered (by either sealing, if only a bad joint is found, or by replacing the faulty section of pipe if crushed or broken). Once the permanent repair has been scheduled, the property owner should inform the D.P.W. by calling City Hall at 979-1520 in order that a D.P.W. inspector can check the work and verify that a permanent repair has been made. If the property owner does not repair the pipe within the one year period, the property owner or the tenant who signs the work order will be responsible for all costs associated with clearing the drain

A record of the contact will be entered on the Department s sewer/drain cleaning record card for the address in question, as well as a record of the completion of the repair. Any future calls from this address would then be handled in the following manner

If the record indicates permanent repair has been made, the call will be accepted and processed in the normal manner, i.e. investigate public sewer main, private drain service.

If the record indicates permanent repair has not been made, property owner will be told that the sewer main will be investigated, but no further City participation will be made until the previous repair requirement is fulfilled

Liability of Property Owner

If upon inspection, it is determined that the wastewater backup resulted from faulty or illegal plumbing or from the negligence of the property owner (or an occupant of the building) the City will not be liable.

Items which should not be placed in the Sewer / Drain System

The New Bedford City Code (Section 16 – 28) makes it a punishable offense to discharge certain substances into the City s sewer or storm drain system These substances include:

  • Hazardous Waste:
    oil and lead-based paints (cans of latex paint may be left open to dry and then disposed with residential solid waste). paint thinners, strippers, stains and varnishes, cleaning liquids, acids motor oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, pesticides, pool chemicals
  • Household Waste:
    cooking fats, wax, oils, or grease paper napkins, paper towels and facial tissues, sanitary napkins and tampons, disposable diapers, animal box litter
  • Miscellaneous Waste:
    cigarettes, ashes, sand, metal, glass, plastics, rags, sawdust, feathers, whole blood, fish gurry, hair and fleshings, entrails, paper or Plastic bags

Hazardous materials should beheld until the next scheduled Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day. (See New Bedford City Code Section 1 6-77) .

Household and Miscellaneous wastes should be placed in leakproof bags or containers and should be disposed of curbside on the regularly scheduled residential solid waste collection day. (See New Bedford Code Sections 16-74 and 16-75).

Leaves and Yard Clippings:

The City of New Bedford has a combined Sewer System, which means that catch basins which collect storm rain water flow through the same sewer system that the City s homes and businesses flow into. Therefore, placing leaves and yard clippings in an open catch basin can result in the system clogging and backing up into private property.

Leaves and yard clippings should be placed in barrels or paper composting bags for curbside collection on the day following the next scheduled residential solid waste collection day.