The Healdsburg City Council voted unanimously Monday night not to change the way the city requires property owners to maintain sewer lines to residential buildings. As part of a broader rewrite of the policies on sewers and wastewater, required under a 2012 legal settlement with environmental group Northern California River Watch, the council had considered making homeowners financially responsible for maintenance all the way to the city-owned mains, Mayor Susan Jones said.

After homeowners objected, however, the council decided to maintain the historic policy of making homeowners responsible only as far as the sewer clean-out box. As a result, lines under public property such as streets and sidewalks remain a city responsibility. In properties with no clean-out boxes, owners remain responsible for maintenance all the way to the main, as they have been since at least the 1980s.

The 2012 settlement obligates the city to change the way it inspects and repairs public and private sewer lines to prevent leakage into the Russian River and its feeder streams. River Watch promised not to file a lawsuit for at least five years in return for the changes.

The lawyer for River Watch did not return a phone call for comment on whether the new city policy satisfies the organization's expectations under the settlement.