Court rules homeowners responsible for improper sewer connection missed by city

Municipal plumbing inspectors can breathe a sigh of relief Thursday after a state Court of Appeals ruled communities do not have to pay homeowners' costs of correcting private sewer misconnections overlooked by inspectors.

A West Bend couple lived in their home for nine years before a city official notified them in 2008 that their private sanitary sewer lateral was discharging to a storm sewer instead of the public sanitary sewer main beneath the street.

An investigation determined that a private plumber connected the lateral to the wrong sewer when the Fairview Drive home was built in 1999.
Scott and Danette Neuendorf sued the city for negligence to recover costs of correcting the mistake, alleging a city inspector should have discovered the cross-connection in 1999.

Though an inspector generally is required to check compliance with municipal codes, there is no requirement that an inspector must verify a sanitary lateral's proper connection to a public sanitary sewer, the state appeals court said in a decision released Thursday.

Read more:

BLOGGER'S NOTE - Although this story is about a sewer cross connection, liability will be similar in a water cross connection. The ultimate reponsibility lies with the property owner and their licensed plumber.