October, 2002

On October 5, 1948, civil engineer J. C. Oglesby reported to the Homestead Valley Sanitary District (HVSD) that he was not yet ready to approve completion of the sewer pipeline being installed along the floor of the valley. The contractor had not finished. This was the latest chapter in a saga involving several years of planning for the collection of Homestead Valley’s sewage. HVSD’s board had grappled with such problems as rallying community support, approving a bond issue, engineering the pipeline, obtaining easements, fending off the county’s Health Dept. and squabbling with Mill Valley about what to pay for connecting to their sewage plant.

Finally, on October 16, 1948 at a special meeting of the HVSD board at Louis Wasserman’s home on Reed, Oglesby’s letter of acceptance of the pipeline was approved. That action was the start of a decades-long program to hook up Homestead Valley homes to a sewer system and develop the pipeline network. Many homeowners asked to be annexed to Homestead Valley in order to connect their homes to the HVSD sewer system.

What happened to Homestead’s wastewater before 1948? At first, most homes had a privy (outhouse.) Until recently, one could see the remains of an old privy on the edge of the creek behind the blue house on the corner of Melrose and LaVerne. It probably wasn’t originally so close to the creek, whose banks have been severely eroded. When the blue house was demolished, the privy disappeared – evidently it was not designated as an historic building.

Cesspools, leach fields and septic tanks were common. Alexander Eells’ House near Three Groves originally had a privy, but in 1907 he installed Indoor plumbing and dug a cesspool seven feet in diameter and six feet deep. At John Bone’s place on Evergreen at Hawthorne, recent excavation unearthed a pipe running from the kitchen to an obvious location for a leach field. The James Brogan house on Janes at Molino depended on a leach field until 1963. The Peggy Adams house on Edgewood got along with a septic tank until 1985.

In some cases, such as in Camp Tamalpais, several homes tied in to one pipeline running to a large septic tank. Several of these networks were ultimately connected to the HVSD main line.

If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.