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Bellevue makes changes to sanitary lateral policy

By Heather Graves

BELLEVUE – Private sanitary lateral repairs in the right-of-way – it’s a topic that has popped up on the village board’s agenda a handful of times over the last several months.

Residents have come forward with concerns, staff made changes to notification letters sent out to property owners and at the February meeting, trustees made a change to the lateral policy giving residents more options.

As part of any infrastructure capital improvement project process, the village contracts televising on the village-owned sanitary main and owner’s sanitary laterals to identify if the pipes are in need of maintenance, repair or replacement.

Prior to an infrastructure capital improvement project, the village inspects the sanitary main and private laterals.

If the inspection reveals a lateral repair is necessary, the property owner is notified, and the repair must be completed in advance of the main project.

This typically requires an open cut of the roadway and curb and gutter to make the repair, then restore the roadway pavement and base, curb and lawn terrace within the public right-of-way.

This work requires a permit and under the old policy was required to happen before the village’s sanitary sewer main project.

However, with the change, residents now have the option to either complete the repair work ahead of the village’s main project, or have the repair work done as part of the main project, with the cost of repair assessed to the property owner.

The assessment will be based on the actual costs of all lateral repairs divided by the number of repairs along the project.

Just like utility work assessments, property owners can chose to pay the full amount immediately or in payments over 10 years.

“That has to be cheaper in the long run for residents instead of them trying to get this done on their own,” said Trustee Dave Kaster.

Any repairs on the property owner’s property would need to be taken care of individually.

This policy change only includes repairs in the right-of-way from the connection at the main to the property line.

Trustee Tom Katers said he was concerned about leaks considered to be severe and waiting to repair those.

Village Administrator Diane Wessel said under the village’s current ordinance, those repairs will still be required to be made before the main project.

“We still require that leaks of a certain severity still be repaired in advance,” she said. “If there is a major problem, we can require it be repaired right away, with our current ordinance as it stands.”

Kaster said he wants all property owners within a project area, regardless if repairs are needed now or not, to receive a letter notifying them work on the road will be happening, and they may, if they would like to, repair/replace the lateral as a preventative option.

“They might want to be proactive about repairs,” he said.

Wessel said staff can do that going forward.

These changes to the policy will be used with the upcoming Manitowoc Road, project – from Allouez Avenue to Kewaunee Road – set for 2021.

During the televising process along the stretch of Manitowoc Road there were 33 privately-owned sewer laterals identified as need of repair or replacement, 20 privately-owned sewer laterals in good condition, but may require attention, 29 privately-owned laterals in good condition and acceptable to reconnect to the sewer main and nine privately-own sewer laterals to be evaluated further.

Village flood preparations

The village is already taking steps to prepare for what is expected to be a record-breaking flood season this spring, and while not much can be done to stop it, the board is putting in place proactive measures.

The first was the purchase of no-fault sewer sanitary backup insurance coverage to help residents if issues occur.

The village’s general liability insurance did not cover no-fault sanitary backups of the village’s sanitary sewer – this includes flooding that results in the backflow into customers’ homes.

The extended coverage now covers claims for damage to private property due to no-fault backups.

“This is a customer service policy that is for the sole benefit of property owners who may experience backups,” Wessel said.

The extended coverage will be added to the sanitary sewer rates.

She said customers will see an increase of $1.75 annually, or 15 cents per month, starting with the March bill.

Board members also approved the purchase of a diesel-powered pump, for approximately $35,000, for emergency backup of lift stations during the event of a wide-spread and prolonged power outage because of flooding.

The pump, along with the village’s jet/vac truck, will keep lift stations operational during a power outage – freeing up the village’s lone generator to be used to provide emergency back-up power to the public works building and the

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system used to monitor and process the village’s water system.

The pump will also be utilized throughout the year to dewater under Interstate 43, dewater the storm holding tank on Huron Road and to pump storm water basins.

More details on how property owners can prepare can be found on the Village of Bellevue’s Facebook page.

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