City tells homeowner to replace aging, biodegradable sewer line, costing thousands

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Peace Avenue is in need of repair. The road is patched up and weeds are growing through the pavement.

The Cedar Rapids City Council approved a street project Tuesday for Peace Avenue but it also means one homeowner will have to pay thousands.

That’s because any time the city does a street project, they inspect what’s underground. If they find Orangeburg piping attached to a home, it means the owner is going to have to pay to have it upgraded.

“It was made of material that is biodegradable,” Karen Feltman, a realtor with Keller Williams Realty, said.

Feltman said it isn’t uncommon to find these types of sewer systems in homes.

“Any home built between 1945 [and] 1975 runs the risk of having Orangeburg piping,” Feltman said.

City leaders said the systems typically last 40 years, meaning they are starting to age. According to city code, homeowners, like the one near Peace Avenue, are responsible for the sewer line from their home to the sewer main.

“What we did today is make sure the cost of the repair won’t exceed $3,500,” Nate Kamperman, an engineer for the City of Cedar Rapids, said.

That may sound like a lot of money, but Feltman said that cost could be a lot worse.

“I’ve seen repair anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000,” Feltman said.

But she feels homeowners should take a look at what kind of system they are running on, especially if they are looking to sell.

“When that time comes, you have to have a working sewer,” Feltman said. "That’s a lot of money for a new buyer to take on.”

The owner of the home near Peace Avenue will be upgrading their system to PVC pipe. Kamperman said that material has around an 80-year service life expectancy.