Forward Lateral Is the Perfect Public-Private Partnership for Sewer Inspections

New Software Streamlines What Used to Be a Lengthy and Expensive Process

Forward Lateral Founder & CEO Jesse Aizenstat shows off the app he's developed to share and store information to streamline drainpipe inspections. (January 13, 2020) | Credit: Paul Wellman

If you’re a property owner, you know this ― sewer lateral inspections are a major pain in the butt. At least, they used to be.

This December, the City of Santa Barbara partnered with a software developer to dramatically streamline the review process. Forward Lateral (goforwardlateral.com), explained creator Jesse Aizenstat, replaces literal paper-pushing with a fully digitized cloud system that makes life much easier for homeowners, plumbers, and city workers alike. “This really is a win-win across the board,” agreed Bradley Rahrer, Santa Barbara’s wastewater system superintendent. “It’s been a great public-private partnership.”

Here’s how it works: When someone buys or adds onto a property, they’re responsible for making sure the lateral connection from their home to the city’s sewer system is up to code. A plumber does an inspection, submits it to the city, then the city tells the owner what work, if any, is required. Before Aizenstat stepped in ― after he endured his own lengthy headache with the old process ― plumbers had to fill out hardcopy forms and drive thumb drives with their video inspections down to the city’s offices. Now, plumbers submit everything digitally, the homeowner can more easily bid out the work, and the city stays connected and communicative the whole time. That saves everyone time and money.

“This is a tech start-up solving a problem,” Aizenstat went on, “but we believe we’ll also have a major environmental impact with our efforts. By eliminating plumbers driving to the city regularly in big trucks, that reduces fuel and traffic.” Plus, he said, it will mean no more wasted thumb drives which, for liability reasons, were only used once and then thrown away.

Now that Santa Barbara has adopted the software, which costs $20 per new inspection, Aizenstat has aspirations of expanding it to other communities. “My goal is 100 percent of the market,” he said. “There’s no reason why someone shouldn’t use it.”

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