Cedar Rapids Homeowners Ankle Deep in Sewer Mess
By Jillian Petrus, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The city's public works department tells us a private contractor doing work at a home along the 300 block of 13th Street Southwest hit a private sewer line sometime last week.
What seemed like a small fix quickly turned into an all-out mess.
"Right now we're at 109 degree temperatures and I got a basement that smells like an outhouse,” said homeowner, Mike Wilkinson. Wilkinson lives two doors down from where the line broke, but didn’t know his older home connected to that same sewer line.
The Wilkinson’s have turned off their water, can’t flush their toilets, and are waiting for someone to fix the broken pipe.
"You just get furious,” said Wilkinson’s son, Kyle Wilkinson, “and at the same time sick in your stomach."
Kyle, a father of two, says he took his children out of his dad’s house and back to their mom. The Linn County Health Department told him it’s a health hazard to have the kids breathing in the sewer fumes.
“We’re doing whatever we can to get this problem solved,” he said.
But that won’t happen fast, because the broken pipe revealed a bigger problem for the three homes. The sewer line is not only broken, it's outdated and doesn't comply with city code. Public Works says it must be replaced within 30 days, and since it's a private line, the city won't cover the cost.
The Wilkinson’s say it'll cost between 6,000 and 9,000 dollars to repair the damage done to their cellar, clean up the mess and pay for the installation of a new sewer line.
Public Works Director Craig Hanson says, to his knowledge, there is nothing stopping JR's Home Repairs from temporarily fixing the damaged pipe. That would at least give the Wilkinson's running water.
"At this point, the contractor says he has no liability whatsoever,” said Mike Wilkinson. “He's not going to do anything with it."
We called the contractor, Dan Hartman Sr., on Tuesday. Hartman says he's trying to get the pipe patched by next week, but says the line needs to be replaced regardless of the accident and the homeowners will end up paying that cost.
The days, now turning into weeks of waiting, have the Wilkinson's ankle deep in sludge and drowning in frustration. The Wilkinson’s and a neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, said they are both willing to go to small claims court if it comes to that. They feel the contractor should at least cover the clean-up and repair costs from the initial accident.
"I really hope they get something done soon just so we can go back to having a normal life again,” Kyle said.
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