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Rate increase by utility responsible for leaky Ogden reservoir angers flood victims

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Posted at 9:59 PM, Apr 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 09:58:31-04

OGDEN, Utah -- For almost 10 months a group of Ogden residents have been waiting to be compensated by the local water utility after a leaky reservoir flooded their basements.

On Tuesday they found out they'll be the ones paying the utility.

Pineview Water Systems voted to raise their rates for about half the customers living in the Weber Box Elder Conservation District. Among those who will be paying more are the 17 homeowners living on and near Douglas Street where the flooding took place.

Jessica Smith was one of the flood victims at Tuesday's meeting. She said it's going to cost $60,000 to $80,000 to restore her finished basement, but Pine View is offering less than $20,000.

"When Pineview first came out to offer an appraisal on our home we were a mere 44 days into the flooding," Smith said.

She said the issue is that the flooding continued for another 60 days.

"So they are looking at their figures from the very beginning and they refuse to even consider a second appraisal or be able to try and compensate us for the damages that occurred after that point," Smith said.

In November a state audit concluded Pine View mishandled the flooding from the very beginning, taking more than 40 days to determine their own leaky reservoir was the source of the water.

"With the proof being it's them you'd think they would just want to make it right and take care of it and have this go away for them," said flood victim Alison Lundell.

The rate increase for those living in the Douglas Street area will be 12 percent. For some that's an extra $22 a year.

A large portion of it will go toward fixing the reservoir. Lundell said it's hard to trust Pineview with that money when the utility has already failed them once.

"I mean what have we been paying for all these years anyway, to have things that are fixed, to have things that are maintained, I mean we pay for that, those things should be taken care of," Lundell said.

Pineview officials say they learned from their past mistakes, and they still hope they can work out a deal with the flood victims without going to court.

"We are going to meet next month and all get on the same page, to really open up the lines of communication and hopefully get this issue resolved," said Benjamin Quick, General Manager for Pineview Water Systems.

Seven home owners have hired an attorney and are seeking compensation for the flooding. At least two of them said they are tired of waiting around.

They expect this issue to be resolved in court. Smith said an official lawsuit could be filed against Pine View within the next week.