Utilities Board (City Council) has revamped policy established after Westside sewage backup in 2004
In 2004, after a highly publicized wastewater backup that dumped raw sewage into five homes in a block of West Bijou Street, Colorado Springs City Council -
acting as the Utilities Board - voted in a new policy that made it easier for citizens to get reimbursed in such cases.
The plan for Colorado Springs Utilities became as follows: Property owners would be OK if they could prove they'd had their service lines cleaned within the past two years.
In 2007, without as much ballyhoo - although the information is posted on the Utilities website and has appeared multiple times in newsletters mailed out with the bills - the City Council/Utilities Board changed the 2004 policy. Under the 2007 plan, which remains in effect today, customers are held responsible for the service line between their homes and the city wastewater main in the street.
What this means - as stated on the website, csu.org - is that customers filing a claim against the city for backups into their homes no longer have to prove they've cleaned their service line, as before (although frequent cleanings are recommended). In addition, in cases where blockage in a city main results in sewage backing up into a home, Utilities agrees to pay the cost (up to $50,000) - as long as its investigation shows that a problem in the customer's service line didn't cause the problem.
Utilities will not pay when a backup is “caused by a catastrophic event” or by “the negligent or intentional act of the customer seeking reimbursement,” the website states.
Also in 2007, Utilities ended its wastewater backup insurance program. “We sent a letter to all customers that had insurance with us at that time, letting them know we were discontinuing the insurance program,” Dave Grossman of Springs Utilities explained. “In the letter, we provided a list of insurance companies that offered similar insurance at that time.”
Asked about the monetary effect of the change, Grossman said that since 2007, “we have paid fewer claims, but have paid more per claim due to this policy. In the past we would have more aggressively negotiated a compromise and paid less on the claim.”
A comparison can be seen in the following statistics on claims provided from Colorado Springs Utilities records for the years 2006 to 2009:
Westside Pioneer article