Dye Testing

Gutter attached to red brick house draining water into a concrete channel.

All property owners who wish to sell a property in the City of Pittsburgh must be in compliance with the Dye Testing Ordinance before the property can be sold. All property owners must submit an Evidence of Compliance Certificate Application, which is required to determine if a property is in compliance or if it will need a dye test prior to selling.

A dye test is used to verify if the gutters, driveway drains, yard drains, or other stormwater collection devices are connected to a sanitary sewer that is intended to carry raw sewage only. This type of connection is not allowed and must be fixed before the sale of a property.

How to Comply

  1. An Evidence of Compliance Certificate Application must be submitted to PWSA before any property in the City of Pittsburgh is sold, in order to determine if the property will need a dye test prior to selling.
    • The property owner, real estate agent, or title company may submit the form. Please ensure duplicate requests are not submitted.
    • A $25.00 processing fee is due when the Evidence of Compliance Certificate Request Form is submitted. Check or money order can be made out to PWSA or The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.
  2. PWSA will review the form and determine if the property is located in an area where a sanitary sewer exists. 
    • PWSA will reply to the form within 10 business days of receipt. 
  3. If it is determined that a property is located in a sanitary sewer area, a dye test must be performed by a certified plumber or general contractor and the results forwarded to PWSA on the provided Dye Testing Results Form
  4. PWSA will review the dye testing results and determine if any corrective actions must be taken by the property owner before the property can be sold.
    • No actions are to be taken until the results are reviewed by PWSA.
    • PWSA will reply to the Dye Testing Results Form within 10 business days of receipt. 
  5. If corrective actions must be taken, a certified plumber or general contractor may make the corrective actions. A subsequent dye test is then required, and the results must be submitted to PWSA on the provided Dye Testing Results Form
  6. Once PWSA has determined that the property does not have any illegal connections to a sanitary sewer, a completed Evidence of Compliance Certificate will be mailed to the property owner or picked up at our offices and the sale of the property can proceed.
    • Evidence of Compliance Certificates are valid for three years.
Contact Information

For more information about dye testing compliance, please see the common questions below or contact our Dye Testing Team at 412-255-2443.

Common Questions

What is a dye test?

Dye testing involves placing a non-staining water soluble dye tablet in the drain or downspout of your property and flushing it with water. The sewer infrastructure is then examined for traces of dyed water. If dye appears, there are illegal connections that will need to be corrected prior to PWSA issuing an Evidence of Compliance Certificate.

Why is it a problem if drains or downspouts are connected to the sanitary sewer?

Sanitary sewers are designed to accept a constant flow of sewage from household water. The sudden, rapid flow of rainwater from roofs, patios, and driveways can overload the sanitary sewer causing backups in basements and pollute adjacent streams, creeks, and rivers.

Where can I find property information for the Evidence of Compliance Certificate Request Form?

Property information, such as parcel number or ward, can be found on the Allegheny County Property Assessment Portal

What if my property is located in a combined sewer area?

Because combined sewers accept sanitary waste and stormwater, no dye test is required. After submitting the request form, you will receive an Evidence of Compliance Certificate from PWSA and will be able to move forward with the sale of property. All Evidence of Compliance Certificates are valid for three years.

What if my property is located in a sanitary sewer area?

A dye test must be performed by a certified plumber or general contractor and the results must be reported to PWSA on the provided Dye Testing Results Form

What do I do if my property passed the dye test?

No further work is necessary. The property owner will receive an Evidence of Compliance Certificate and will be able to move forward with the sale of the property. All Evidence of Compliance Certificates are valid for three years.

What do I do if my property failed the dye test?

Corrective actions must be taken. Contact a certified plumber or general contractor. After the corrective actions have been made, a subsequent test is required, and the results must be reported to PWSA on the provided Dye Testing Results Form

When the property passes the subsequent dye test, the property owner will receive an Evidence of Compliance Certificate and will be able to move forward with the sale of the property.

Does my vacant lot need a dye test?

If the vacant land has its own parcel number and is located within a sanitary sewer area, an Evidence of Compliance Certificate is necessary. A registered plumber will follow standard procedure and determine if the property is in fact vacant by inspecting for leftover drains or pipes.

If the property is a condo, does the Dye Testing Ordinance apply?

If a condo has its own parcel number, an Evidence of Compliance Certificate is necessary.

How do I obtain an existing Evidence of Compliance Certificate?

To obtain a previously-approved Evidence of Compliance Certificate, submit the Evidence of Compliance Application. PWSA will check to see if a test was completed within the last 3 years. If so, the Evidence of Compliance Certificate will be mailed to the requestor. 

If a property is being refinanced, does it need an Evidence of Compliance Certificate?

Each situation is different dependent on the financial institution. Generally, if the refinance requires tax lien letters, you need to have an Evidence of Compliance Certificate. If it does not require tax lien letters, the Evidence of Compliance Certificate is not needed. PWSA cannot determine if a refinance on a property needs tax lien letters. 

How long does this process take?

PWSA will reply to the Evidence of Compliance Certificate Application within 10 business days of receipt. If a dye test is needed, the timeline is dependent upon multiple factors. PWSA will reply to the Dye Testing Results Form within 10 business days of receipt as well. In other words, this time period will be longer if the property requires a dye test or corrective actions.

Searchable Map of Identified Sanitary Sewer Areas

An Evidence of Compliance Certificate Application must be submitted to PWSA before the sale of a property in the City of Pittsburgh, regardless of whether the property is in an identified sanitary sewer area. 

This map is intended only to be a guideline for property owners to indicate if a property is near an identified sanitary sewer area and will likely require a dye test (shown in green). This map does not confirm that a dye test will or will not be required during a property transfer. After the Evidence of Compliance Certificate Application is submitted to PWSA, it will be determined if a dye test is required.

Please note that the sanitary sewer areas identified in this map are subject to change based on new pipe construction, record updates, and ongoing research and field investigations.