Charlottesville Woman Wants City to Fix Stormwater Damage
Feb 16, 2013 11:51 PM EST
A Charlottesville woman is speaking out against the city's response to a major problem with stormwater runoff in her yard. She says the water streaming off the city street onto her property isn't her problem to pay to fix.
Barbara Johnson says the city needs to stop the runoff from destroying her yard - especially now that City Council has passed a stormwater fee she'll have to pay.
The drain is supposed to collect rain that rushes down the hill in front of Johnson's house. But the drain and underground pipe are failing. When it rains, this waterfall rushes through Johnson's yard, leaving behind a large ditch.
"I just want that water to stop coming down through my yard," she said. Johnson's homeowner's association wrote to the city, asking to fix the problem.
The city responded with a letter saying it would pay 75-percent of the $30,000 in repairs, but Johnson would have to cover the rest of the cost. Johnson believes that's too much - especially now that she'll have to pay the new stormwater fee imposed by City Council.
"I don't think it's my problem. It's their problem," she said.
City Council member Kristin Szakos says Johnson's problem underscores a larger problem in Charlottesville and in cities across the country.
"The part of the system that's on your own property whether it's the sewer or water pipe or storm water is your property, and the part that's out in the public space, along the street, along the right of way belongs to the city and the city doesn't even have the right to come in and maintain it," Szakos said.
Still, Johnson says she won't foot the bill for a fix she believes to be the city's responsibility.
"If they don't want to fix it, don't fix it," Johnson said. "I'll just let the water constantly run through the yard. Until I probably won't have a yard."
Szakos says other cities have started using insurance programs for situations where homeowners have city systems on their property. That way when something goes wrong, the insurance company covers the damage. Szakos says the insurance program is worth looking into for Charlottesville to avoid future situations like Johnson's.
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