By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A small water line leak has led to an eye-popping repair bill for one Minneapolis homeowner.

Dan Wilke hopes his story serves as a wake-up call to finally change a little known ordinance, once and for all.

“The lawnmower sank then I noticed the water coming out slowly,” explained Dan Wilke.

Yard work uncovered trouble for Wilke six weeks ago.

“I called the city, let them know that water was leaking out.  At that time I was just assuming I owned from the valve to my house,” Wilke said.

As a civil engineer himself, Wilke knew it would be an expensive repair. But, he didn’t know of a city rule causing it to cost much more.

“The bids came in at $17,000 to 21,000,” Wilke said. “That’s a little bit of a shock to say the least.”

Turns out that water line is on the other side of the street, meaning Wilke’s responsible for fixing the water line across four lanes of traffic.

That ordinance says any repair to a water line requires all lead segments of that line to also be replaced.

“The lead line is not currently leaking, but because it’s lead and another piece of my line is leaking I’m responsible for fixing everything under Central Avenue,” explained Wilke.

Wilke is now lobbying city leaders to change the 27-year-old lead line ordinance as infrastructure ages.

“While I understand that something could go wrong in the future, I feel like the city should be proactive in starting a program to fix these lead lines,” he said.

WCCO profiled a similar situation this past fall: a leak in a water line led to a $6,000 repair bill.

Now, Wilke is sounding the alarm again as homeowners along major roads could be hit hardest.

“Any house down this street could be subject to a $20,000 charge from one little leak in their water line,” explained Wilke.

The city told us code doesn’t allow any lead service lines to be reconnected as a best practice. For now, leaving Wilke no choice but to pay $350 a month for the next five years to cover the cost of the repair.

“I would really like Minneapolis to take responsibility for what is under their property,” added Wilke.

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 (15)
  1. Jorge Gonzalez says:

    I have a distant relative who does this work all over minneapolis and st paul. Everyone knows about. Nothing new. This guy just wants to complain. His problem. Don’t live in a liberal city if you don’t have the big bucks to shell out for property taxes and water lines.