Tuesday, June 18 2013, 10:14 AM MDT
Get Gephardt: Gross and Expensive Cleanup for WVC Homeowners
By Matt Gephardt
Produced by Michelle Poe
Photography by Dan Dixon and Dan Kovach
Edited by Aaron Colborn
(KUTV) What a horrible way to ring in the new year; a clogged sewer main resulted in dirty water and other hazardous debris flooding up through drains in several West Valley City homes.
“It's disgusting,” said Katie Peterson. “I still have some poop downstairs on my drain."
Peterson's once finished basement is still a mess. She is missing carpet and sheetrock and much of her furniture had to be thrown away. The repairs are expensive and the sewer company is shirking responsibility.
"I buy insurance to cover me for things that happen on my property, but this didn't happen on my property, this happened in city sewer," Peterson said.
She is not alone in her frustration. About a dozen homes in all had some damage after the clogged sewer line. Get Gephardt spoke to 10 different homeowners, each saying the responsible party should be the Magna Water District. Magna Water owns the sewer line and they have taken some action to try and appease the homeowners. They paid up to $10,000 per effected home to cover cleanup costs, but that money could not be used for repairs. Repair costs will fall to the homeowners.
“That'll cover cleanup, but I still don't have my house back,” Peterson said.
Katie and her neighbors asked Get Gephardt to investigate.
We took the complaints to Brent Williams, General Manager of the Magna Water District. He says the clog was caused by some debris that someone put into the sewer.
“We have 76 miles of sewer pipe in the system,” Williams said. “We have no control over who puts what in them."
Williams said that Magna Water’s insurance company investigated and found that because the issue was caused by a third party putting debris in the line, Magna Water is not liable for the costs to the flooded homeowners.
“We feel like we are a victim kind of like the homeowners,” Williams said. “Not to the extent of the homeowners, though it is getting to be that way with all of this."
Some potential good news for the homeowners, though. After our interview with Williams, their stance may have changed. Magna Water has now reached out to the homeowners impacted by the flood and asked them what dollar amount they feel would be fair to repair their homes. Tuesday, Magna Water held a closed door meeting with its board of directors and legal representatives to discuss possible litigation as what if anything settlement might be reached between Magna Water and the homeowners.
Now, the flooded West Valley homeowners wait hoping that Magna Water decides to relent on their original position and instead help pay some or all of the costs to repair their homes.
Williams says that there should be a decision when the board meets again Thursday.
So, what about homeowners insurance? We spoke to several different insurance companies about this case. Each told us that their standard homeowner’s policy does not cover damage from a clogged sewer line. Also, flood insurance doesn’t cover damage from a clogged sewer line. To financially protect your home from a clogged sewer, a homeowner needs to have a water and sewer backup endorsement which, like any specialty insurance, costs more money.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcast Group)