Traverse City family surprised over city pipe replacement policy

Traverse City family surprised over city pipe replacement policy

A Traverse City family has a message for homeowners tonight who may find themselves faced with having to replace sewer pipes.

Your financial responsibilities may actually go past your property line.

"Our understanding, and I think a lot of people's understanding is that anything on your property is your responsibility," said Kaitlyn Nance.

Kaitlyn and her husband moved into their home on Oakdale Drive in Traverse City, in 2014.

They started having plumbing issues from tree roots that were getting into an older clay pipe that stretches from the curb to the middle of the street.

All of the pipes on their property have been replaced with PVC pipes. Kaitlyn says they just assumed the cost to replace the pipe outside of their property line would be covered by the city.

"We didn't understand until recently that the pipe under the road is still our responsibility to be replacing," Kaitlyn said.

According to the Traverse City Sewer and Water Maintenance Division, "The City maintains all sewer mains, which are located in the street or public utilities easements. Residents and business owners own the lateral connections to the mains, laterals typically run on the owners’ property and on streets or public areas to reach the main."

But it's a different policy when it comes to water mains.

"For the water service, the city owns from the main out to the property line and there's typically a curb stop shut off box there at the edge of the property. But the city maintains and owns that," said Art Krueger, Director of Municipal Utilities.

However, if the city feels it's necessary to replace the sewer main, Krueger says they'll also go in and replace old connecting pipes up to the grassy area between the curb and the sidewalk, as part of a courtesy.

But in this situation, the Nance's will have to pay to replace not only the deteriorating pipe, but also the cost of tearing up the road.

They've been told similar projects have cost upwards of $12,000.

"I would guess that most people no matter what financial situation they're in, probably would struggle to come up with $12,000 dollars to fix an issue that was vital," Kaitlyn said.

She says she understands these are just the rules of the ordinance, but she's worried others might not know about this either.

"I just hope other people can educate themselves in this as well so if they're dealt with a task like this, that they're more prepared," she said.

"There's a lot of unseen utilities out there and public awareness is important," Krueger said.

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