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After clogged sewer line destroys basements, those responsible refuse to pay for damages

After clogged sewer line destroys basements, those responsible refuse to pay for damages (Photo: Get Gephardt)

(KUTV) You’ve got to admire Austin Peterson's positive attitude. It's a situation that would leave many in tears, he can't stop giggling as he describes the sights and smells of the night hundreds of gallons of raw sewage began flowing into his newly finished basement.

"It was disgusting,” he chuckles. “It smelled like a really bad porta-potty.”

Peterson and a handful of his neighbors report that raw sewage began pumping into their homes from sewer drains around 10PM last Christmas eve.

"We're trying to like get our kids in bed and they're freaking out because everything stinks,” he said.

Saint Nick would have to wait. Peterson called Lehi City which is responsible for his neighborhood’s sewer lines.

"We kind of had a neighborhood party around the manhole cover trying to figure out where it was coming from."

*It* was coming from a blocked Lehi-sewer line several streets to the east.

Lehi City crews cleared the blockage and Peterson and his neighbors spent their holiday cleaning up and surveying the expensive damage.

Months later, trying to get somebody to take responsibility for the mess has been no laughing matter.

Dave Norman, Water Systems Director for Lehi City says, yes, it was the city's sewer line that was blocked but the city is not responsible for the damage the backup caused.

Norman told Get Gephardt that where the sewer line was blocked is the exact same place that a homebuilder had been excavating and had connected a sewer line just one day prior to the back up.

"We believe that, in the work that the contractor did, they tied in that new sewer lateral,” Norman said. “That allowed some rocks and mud and other debris into the system."

Lehi City says that anyone who wants to make a claim should do so with the developer, Richmond American Homes, or its contractors.

Claims made with Richmond and the contract didn't do any good for Peterson. All claims were denied, he says.

In an email, a spokesperson for Richmond wrote, "We are taking this situation very seriously and will investigate thoroughly."

Just like that, great news for Peterson. Richmond sent him a check for $23,251.43, enough to pay for the cleanup and fix the damage the sewer backup caused.

Richmond claimed that they had never heard from Peterson before calls from Get Gephardt. Peterson is able to show that he emailed back and forth with the company several times and that many of his attempts to reach the company were ignored.

Get Gephardt pointed out the discrepancy in Richmond’s statement to the homebuilder’s spokesperson. The spokesperson did not respond.

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