By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — While she finishes her Halloween decorating, Itzel Perez Dominguez tries not to focus on the horror story happening in front of her house.

“This is a significant problem for me,” the Minneapolis resident said.

That problem pooled on her street a couple of weeks ago, as pointed out by a city inspector.

“I get on the phone and the inspector says there is a leak. I was like, ‘Wait a minute, a leak? What do you mean where is the leak?’” she said.

It was a leak in the water line that leads to her south Minneapolis home.

“This is basically saying we found the water leak and you’re responsible for it,” she said.

Along with a hefty $5,800 bill to fix it, she added.

“Where do people who encounter these issues come up with this money? Like how does that even work?” she said.

A seemingly little known ordinance puts homeowner’s on the hook.

Part of that ordinance reads: “each piece of the water service line shall be maintained and kept in good operating condition by the property owner.”

Perez Dominguez also learned her water line was last serviced decades ago, meaning problems aren’t uncommon for aging infrastructure.

“He told me at that moment there were 40 leaks around the city, so 40 people were struggling the same way I am right now,” she said.

Homeowners can add repair costs to their property tax bill, with a 5 percent fixed interest rate attached.

“That’s what I’m doing, because I have no way to give them $6,000 to fix this,” she said.

Phone calls to attorneys and the city council pleading for a change led to dead ends.

“It’s just frustrating,” Perez Dominguez said. “Our politicians and people find resources for other things, like a new stadium.”

Minneapolis also reminds homeowners they have to cover the cost of sewer line repairs, too.

Some cities in the metro have allowed companies to sell insurance policies to offer some kind of protection.

Insurance agents told WCCO some companies offer this type of coverage in a homeowner’s policy, so it’s best to check with your agent.

Liz Collin

Comments (3)
  1. Jorge Gonzalez says:

    This has been going on for decades. It’s normal!!! Every city requires this. Just because she is a female she gets this air time? There are hundreds of residents who have this done every year in Minneapolis. I have a relative who works for a company that does this year around in Minneapolis. They called lawyers and the city? Get over it girl. Your welfare payments don’t cover it? Too bad. City will confiscate your property and sell it to someone who will pay their bills and not cry about it.

  2. This happened to me a few years ago. I came home to a flood in my front yard and the next day I got a notice from the city telling me that I had to fix it. The letter told me that I have the choice of ONLY three contractors that were authorized to fix it and If I didn’t, that they would do it and send me a bill. I Called one of the three and they gave me an estimate of 4K. I paid it. A few days later, they fixed it, dug up the street, etc. When I came home, the stand pipe in the yard was about 8 inches above grade. I figured that they were not done, but it stayed that way. A few weeks later, I got a letter from the city saying that this stand pipe was illegal and that I would have to fix it. I ignored this notice because I had done what they told me I had to do. Two weeks later, another letter arrived, same thing…. Sign this and we will fix it. Sign this saying that you will be responsible for this repair. I ignored it. When the third letter arrived threatening legal action, I called them. The lady told me that I just needed to sign the letter and that they would come by and pound the pipe into the ground. I told her that I wasn’t going to sign anything because I did what they told me that I had to do and that if there was an issue, it was their problem. I wasn’t going to sign something else that would mean that I would be responsible. She put me on hold for 20 mins and then said that they would be contacting me. I heard nothing. I sold that house a year later and the standpipe was still sticking out of the ground. Funny, how when the city of Minneapolis thought I was paying for it it was urgent. When they realized that they had to pay to fix the problem, all of a sudden, it was no longer an issue. NICE!

  3. Joan Soholt says:

    Some South Minneapolis residents have been meeting with the city, state, county, Minnehaha Creek Watershed, Park Board, Met Council, MAC representatives because this is more than aging infrastructure. South Minneapolis is the epicenter for the Minnehaha Watershed, in recent years with higher occurrences of high levels of precipitation the ground water levels have risen causing fluctuations and breaks to the pipes underground. Studies by the city are currently underway to understand why there is flooding around Nokomis and an increase in lake levels. Residents around Nokomis, Hiawatha, and along the creek are having to do costly repairs to infrastructure and foundations because of the groundwater issues. Minnehaha creek can no longer handle the amount of surface sewer coming from all the communities that feed into it, possibly causing groundwater to back up into neighborhoods, again causing infrastructure damage. Residents have asked officials for a thorough study from United States Geological Survey in order to mitigate more damage related to the high amount of drainage coming from Lake Minnetonka, Mothers Lake, near the airport and the rest of the 180 square miles that eventually drain into Lake Hiawatha. Our block had five sewer main breaks in a year in south Minneapolis. A recent sewer break in our neighborhood cost the homeowner over $13,000 to repair their sewer line because they had to pump groundwater first. Groundwater and over saturation are significant issues in South Minneapolis that have already had costly ramifications to homeowners. As the city continues to develop officials are struggling to find areas to dump surface runoff. Without thorough hydrological and geological data poor city planning may continue to exacerbate infrastructure issues and be costly to city residents as well as devaluing neighborhoods.