Santaquin residents face big bill for sewage cleanup, city says it isn’t at fault

Posted at 6:10 PM, Nov 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-03 20:10:51-05

SANTAQUIN, Utah -- It’s been two months since raw sewage came flooding through at least 30 Santaquin homes, and at least one homeowner is upset with the city’s response to the damages to homes.

"It was disgusting,” Santaquin Resident Misty Mott said. “You could actually see feces down the hallway.”

Mott said a cleaning crew sucked out 500 gallons of sewage from her home. Health officials told her anything that had been touched by the sewage was contaminated and needed to be disposed of.

“They told us with the sewage, you have to cut up 3 feet—the doors, everything had to come out,” she said. “Between furniture, TV, all the kid’s toys, I mean they have one box of toys up in their rooms is all, everything was down here. A bounce house that was $400..."

After Santaquin's insurance adjusters surveyed all the damaged homes, the Motts and many neighbors received this letter from the city which states: “Our investigation shows the cause of the sewer back up was heavy rainfall on the loss date.”

City officials said that means the damages were caused by an act of nature. They said Santaquin is not liable because their system can't be expected to handle that level of water. Some residents received checks for the damages, but the maximum amount was $5,000.

Mott was not pleased with that answer.

“All he could tell us is, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way,’” Mott said. “I said, ‘I’m sitting here with $40,000 in loss, and you’re telling me you're sorry I feel this way? I just don't know what other way there is to feel.'”

Santaquin City Manager Benjamin Reeves said the sewer system was in working order on the day of the flood.  Residents said that scares them more, because if this is what a working system does, it could happen again.