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Published April 15, 2010, 09:05 PM

EGF: City Not Liable For Homeowner's Damages In Sewer Back-Up

East Grand Forks' insurance agency has determined the city was not negligent after sewage backed up into about a dozen homes in late March. The city is telling homeowners they will have to pay for the damages themselves.

East Grand Forks' insurance agency has determined the city was not negligent after sewage backed up into about a dozen homes in late March. The city is telling homeowners they will have to pay for the damages themselves.

East Grand Forks' insurance agency will send out letters next week explaining to the homeowners that the city was not found at fault for the sewage back-up.

As WDAZ has exclusively reported, about a dozen homes experienced raw sewage in their basements after a missing manhole cover allowed runoff from overland flooding to overwhelm the city's sewer system. The city says a routine check of the manhole cover before winter showed the cover was on. The city says it was not reported as missing this spring.

The homes with damage are near the Valley Golf Course in East Grand Forks. Mark Poolman had damage to his basement. He says he feels let down by the city's response to the homeowner's troubles.

Mark Poolman/ Had Sewage Back-Up in Basement: "It doesn't surprise me that much coming from an insurance company per-say. I haven't heard anything from the city officially really and I guess I really am disappointed that I really haven't heard more from them as far as what actually was the issue."

The investigation by the city's insurance company found that there was no negligence or lack of maintenance regarding the sewer system. Like Poolman, many victims are upset that the city is not paying for any clean up costs. Poolman says he understands it was an accident.

Mark Poolman/ Had Sewage Back-Up in Basement: "I think there is an obligation for the city to take care of its citizens; obviously it's the obligation for the citizens to take care of themselves as well. It happened but my concern is what are they going to do about it so it doesn't happen again."

Scott Huizenga/East Grand Forks City Administrator:"We take every step that we think is reasonable to ensure that back-ups happen like I said we have regular maintenance for line cleaning we check the lift stations the pumps and generators to make sure that their are various back-ups."

Huizenga says the city followed the steps given to them by their insurance agency.

Scott Huizenga/East Grand Forks City Administrator:" We just recommend that they work with their Insurer and we'll respond in kind if their are any questions that come up in other investigations."

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