Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Sewer Company Relents, Helps Flooded Residents
By Matt Gephardt
Produced by Michelle Poe
Edited by Aaron Colborn
Editor’s Note: This is a follow-up story. The original story was reported March 12, 2013.
(KUTV) It was a standing-room-only packed room at the latest public meeting of the Magna Water District on March 14. Much of the crowd consisted of frustrated residents whose homes were flooded late last year thanks to a clogged sewer line.
“It's disgusting,” said flooded homeowner Katie Peterson. “I still have some poop downstairs on my drain."
Peterson and her neighbors say the Magna Water District, which owns the sewer line in question, should pay for the damage. The District has already come up with two separate $5,000 payments to help cover the costs of cleanup, but that money is specifically forbidden from going toward repair costs. Peterson says bids to repair her home are more than $30,000.
Magna Water District’s insurance company says it was not the sewer company's fault because the line had been properly inspected prior to the flood. Magna Water District’s general manager told 2News that the clog was caused by a piece of debris that some third party had placed into the sewer. Thus, the insurance company will not pay the homeowners' claims.
Since that denial, the impacted residents have continued to pressure Magna Water to pay their claims. They circulated a petition, called lawmakers and news outlets, and repeatedly met with members of the District’s board of directors.
After nearly three months, the residents will be made whole. At the latest public meeting of the Magna Water District, the board approved a motion to step up where their insurance company would not. They will pay up to $150,000 to settle all remaining claims. In exchange for receiving money, the residents must waive their rights to sue in the future.
It's a decision that will finally allow homeowners like Brooke Densley to afford to rebuild.
"[I’m] very happy,” she said following the meeting. “It was a long battle but hopefully it doesn’t happen to anybody else in the community."
To that end, the Magna Water District said they are working to protect residents in the future. They are studying creating a fund that would keep money set aside so that they will be able to financially help future flood victims. Such a fund would mean an increase in what every resident has to pay in their monthly utility bill.
The Magna Water District says they expect the results of the study by May at which point they will take public comments before making a final decision.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)