Archive for Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Sewer line problems frustrate family

August 29, 2001

A Tonganoxie family has been flooded with bills incurred when their sewer line broke a break they say they shouldn't be their responsibility to pay.

Francie Campbell, who lives at 305 E. First, said that this spring, sewage came into the family's basement, causing more than $9,000 damage to the home and possessions.

The break in the sewer line, Campbell said, appeared to have been caused about four years ago when underground natural gas lines were placed by a company contracted by Kansas Gas Service.

"In the process of doing that, they broke our sewer line near the bell," Campbell said. "They repaired it with black electrical tape and put concrete grout over it."

When the cost of repairing the line was added to damage caused by the sewage in the house, the amount came close to $16,000, Campbell said.

Their homeowners insurance will pay a portion of the cost, she said.

Campbell contends that K&B Construction, Kansas City, Kan., a firm contracted by Kansas Gas Service to place the gas lines, or KGS, should pay damages. Campbell said that K&B had offered to pay about $900 in damages.

Jerry Van Hooser, safety director for K&B, said the claim has been turned over to the company's insurance agent.

K&B tries to ensure that accidents like this don't happen, he said.

"But unfortunately, they do," he said.

The method of repairing the broken sewer line was acceptable, Van Hooser said.

"The tape was put there to hold the piece in place while they put the concrete grout around it for a permanent repair," Van Hooser said. "Someone might know of a better way to repair these, but at the point in time when that was done in 1997, that was an accepted way."

James Lambert, a representative of KGS, had looked into Campbell's claim and was aware that K&B Construction was working on it.

"It's our company's policy that we do not comment on claims that are being processed," Lambert said.

Butch Rodgers, Tonganoxie public works director, said he had been called in June to look at the broken sewer line and check the condition of the city's line.

Rodgers said he believed this was an isolated incident, and not something about which Tonganoxie residents need to be overly concerned.

"You come across those situations once in a great while," he said, adding that about five years ago a telephone line was inadvertently installed so that it was running through a sewer line.

As for Campbell, she said she won't be satisfied until this is settled.

"I'm not stupid, and I know that black electrical tape belongs on wires, not on sewer lines," Campbell said.

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