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Sewer backup a four month ordeal for family

A sewer backup that started in late February has been an ongoing nightmare for Park Rapids residents Eric and Jamie Munson.

The situation began Feb. 28, the day after the Munsons purchased their home on north Lake Avenue. The sewer backed up and the initial thought was that the home had an old service line running to the city's main.

City utility maintenance worker Dean Christofferson checked the service in the area and determined the problem was not on the city side but the property owner's side and could be caused from old clay tile pipes. He said the water main was flowing north and working correctly.

After the Munsons had several plumbers out to look at the problem, no problem could be found. The Munsons said they were left with little or no choice to have someone tear up the yard to look at the pipes. It was determined that the Munsons had newer PVC pipes and not the clay tile pipes.

A blockage was found on the Munsons' property by a private plumber, according to the city's insurance adjuster Mark Nygaard.

Later on, it was discovered the city's water main runs to the south at that location and there was a blockage in the city main as well that included tree roots and wet wipes.

Beyond the initial backyard sewer work and indoor plumbing work, the Munsons say they will have thousands more in clean up. They claim expenses totaling $33,528.41.

The Munsons also said the city was at fault for not doing its job in keeping the sewer system clean.

The city's insurance adjuster spoke with city employees and looked over cleaning records for the sewer. He determined the city did its job.

"The decision to offer you a compromised settlement offer is in response to the alleged communication issues between the city and yourself regarding the bills associated with this matter," Nygaard told the Munsons in an e-mail. "... City sewers plug up occasionally. The city cannot control what people flush down their toilets, etc. The blockage that was found in the city main was approximately 8 feet from where your home's sewer lateral connects to the main."

The situation was resolved Friday after the Park Rapids City Council agreed to settle the matter for $5,000 plus waive a road patch fee of $1,335 from the sewer excavation, as recommended by Nygaard.

The Munsons said they were willing to accept the settlement to be done with the situation.

Mayor Nancy Carroll said they had her sympathy. She has experienced sewer issues and said they are awful.

"It's been a nightmare," Eric Munson said.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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