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Boulder weighs payment for water main damage

Posted: 10:01 PM, Mar 18, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-19 04:20:17Z

The water in basements is long gone but the bills are coming in. Boulder City Council members discussed the possibility of reimbursing residents for damage to their homes that was caused by a water main break back in February.

"We really aren’t legally required to do any reimbursement as long as there’s been no negligence on the part of the city but I think there’s a lot of people that want to go beyond just our legal obligation," said Councilman Sam Weaver.

Residents tell Denver7 they received letters from the city's claim adjuster that stated, "the city is not liable for damage caused by the break."

Councilman Weaver said five residents have filed formal claims with the city.

Resident Dan Spiegler said it's a question of liability versus responsibility. Spiegler's home damage was estimated around $8,000. His basement and landscaping were damaged by the water.

"We’ve got old pipes, they break sometimes. You have to take care of your people," said Spiegler.

He would also like to see the city expand the number of people who can shut off a water main and create a point person to deal with the claims.

The impact of reimbursing residents would go beyond this recent incident and could establish precedent in a city with aging infrastructure.

"We will want to do it as a policy decision so that it does set a precedent one way or the other, so we don’t want to do it as a one off," said Weaver.

Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones released the following statement:

“As residents, we all enjoy the benefits of our drinking water infrastructure. But when there is a water main break, which is an inevitable occurrence in any system, the damages are borne by just a few. So we thought it was worth examining whether there was a more equitable approach—such as setting up a ratepayer fund to reimburse at least some of the damages caused to private property when water mains break.”

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