Private water and sewer service pipes and construction in street right-of-way

The pipe which carries drinking water from OWASA’s meter to your home of business is part of the private plumbing system. (The OWASA water system includes our meter and a short pipe which carries water to our meter from our water main in or along the roadway.)

The pipe which carries wastewater from a home or business to OWASA’s public sewer line is also part of the private plumbing system. 

You may wish to adjust your device to zoom in on the diagram below.

A street right-of-way normally includes several feet on each side of the pavement or roadway. To find the boundary between your property and the right-of-way, you may wish to check the survey of your land if you have one, and/or look for markers such as pipes in the ground at the corners of your land.

If a contractor works in the street right-of-way, you may wish to check after the work is done whether there was any damage to your utility service lines, etc. and make a note of the name of the contractor and how to contact the company. Damage may not become apparent for some time, for example, if a sewer service pipe is cut.

It is to your advantage to know the location of your private water and sewer service pipes if possible. OWASA does not have records of the location of private water and sewer pipes. If you know the location of OWASA’s meter and where your water service line enters your home or business, the water service line likely runs in a straight line from our meter to the entry point at the foundation, etc.

If you are not sure where our meter is, please contact us at 919-968-4421 or You may also be able to determine where your sewer drains leave the house if you have drains in a crawlspace. If there is a sewer service “cleanout” pipe at ground level on your property, the clean-out indicates where your sewer service pipe is. Due to underground rock, trees, etc., water and sewer service pipes are not always installed in a straight line.

Contractors working in a right-of-way are required to contact the NC One Call Center to have the location of underground public utilities in the right-of-way marked. However, the location of privately-owned service pipes in right-of-way is normally not marked, because utility companies do not have records of the location of private pipes and lines. Determining the location of underground private pipes may be difficult or impossible because private pipes may not be metallic and may be smaller than public lines/pipes.

You may wish to check with your insurance agent about whether and when your insurance covers damage to utility service lines/pipes and/or consider whether to add coverage.

In some cases involving structural failure or settling, we may repair the part of a sewer lateral in a street right of way. Please click here for more information.

If you need to have OWASA shut off the water at our meter so a plumber can repair the private service form our meter to your house or business, please contact us at 919-968-4421 (24 hour number). We will cut off the water at our meter once a year on request at no charge.

We recommend that private plumbing systems include emergency water shut-off valves and that they be clearly marked so they can be turned off quickly when necessary due to a leak, repair, etc.