BY COUNCILOR STOVER:
RESOLVED, that the proper city officials are authorized to make payments to the individuals and in the amounts shown below as settlement of claims against the city arising from sewage backing up into the basement of dwellings identified below in the area of 22nd Avenue West and Second Street on October 4, 2005, and waiving any immunities the city could claim, up to the amounts shown:
Payment to be made from Self Insurance Fund 610-036-1653-5841.
RESOLVED FURTHER, that the city officials are authorized to recover contribution from any liable party.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: The claimants are served by a sanitary sewer owned and operated by city of Duluth. By law, that sewer connects and empties into a sewer operated by WLSSD. The WLSSD pipe serves part of Duluth, Hermantown and other areas outside of Duluth. The pipes connect under 23rd Avenue West and First Street. The city has been aware of sewer backups affecting these properties in the past. The cause of the backups is that the WLSSD pipe becomes full, and cannot accept more flow, and this causes the city pipe to fill and back upstream. When the sewage backs up to the level of the claimants’ property, it enters their basements, to various depths. The flow in the WLSSD pipe is affected by I&I and increased use as areas outside the city which it serves grow and develop. On October 3, 4 and 5, 2005, the city experienced very heavy rains. Due to I&I, the pipes backed up and flooded the claimants’ basements, causing significant damage. In the absence of I&I, the rain would have had little or no effect.
The city at first denied all the claims. Upon review and, based upon the long known history of flow problems in the area, city officials decided that the city could not utilize the basements of customers for sewage retaining basins without charge. The city claims adjuster investigated and documented all damage. The city invited WLSSD to contribute to the settlements. It refused, claiming immunity from liability and that it is not at fault. The city officials then reached settlements and advised the citizens that they could proceed to conciliation court to resolve issues with WLSSD. The two claimants listed first will receive 50 percent of their damages and have made claims against WLSSD. The city will seek contribution from WLSSD for its share of the other four settlements. This resolution authorizes the city to attempt to recover contribution from WLSSD or any other party that may be liable for any of the damage.