City sending notices to homeowners soon
Two City of Everett Public Works employees assemble a backwater valve at a business on Bond Street on Tuesday, Aug. 19.
EVERETT — Many residents across north Everett may be getting notices soon that the city will be requiring them to install a backflow valve that the city will reimburse them for.
Even though the city's rebate program didn't open up until after the City Council’s authorizing vote last week, contractors already have swept in, canvassing the area with handbills and flyers to urge people to install these valves now.
People now can opt to have a contractor install the valve and get reimbursed by the city, or get on a long waiting list to have the city put in a valve at no expense.
The backflow valve installation deadline notices will come out in phases. The deadline to act is at least six months after receiving notice.
Property owners will be required to maintain the valves unless the city installs the valve. If the valve is not maintained and your home floods, under the new rules you’re up a creek without a paddle as the city can reject a damage claim.
The vote also capped how much the city will pay out for damage claims to $25,000 for everyday homeowners. Most homeowners won’t be affected by the cap, but some commercial property owners facing the same cap limit might if their insurance company doesn’t cover flooding.
The city also will be pushing people to disconnect their gutter downspouts from going directly into the sewer system. Instead, the downspout should spill out to the yard. After a certain amount of time, the city will refuse to pay claims if the sewer system overflows up the downspout to the roof.
The city recommends maintaining the backwater valves every three months.
Everett’s public works department says maintaining a backwater valve is as easy as inspecting it for any damage, and pulling it up and hosing it off.
Backflow valve program
Installing the backflow valves would be at the city’s expense.
The backflow valve program will cost $4.5 million to implement.
A backflow valve is a one-way valve that prevents sewage from backing up into a home. City officials attribute these valves helped prevent backups at some houses during last year’s Aug. 29 and Sept. 6 heavy rainstorms that caused city sewer pipes to overfill.
It was a comparative sliver, as about 250 properties were impacted with basement flooding.
The resulting flood damage claims from residents and commercial property owners cost Everett $4.3 million. The payout money comes from utility funds paid for by utility rates, which is also is used to pay for fixing pipes.
The city has identified 1,800 properties that it believes would be saved from a flooding incident by installing a backflow valve. The properties were identified using a worst case scenario model of an intense deluge.
Putting the maintenance requirement on the homeowner was a last-minute change to the rules. The earlier set of rules would've had the city responsible for doing this, but the change potentially was in response to some city officials' concerns that would cost more manpower.
The sewage backups are an unfortunate byproduct of the city's older style pipes in north Everett which carry sewage and stormwater in the same pipe.
Heavy rainfall can cause these pipes to overfill and back up into basements and the streets.
The city is actively working to separate the pipes, but it is a costly and arduous process.
Separating all of the combined storm water pipes would cost more than $1 billion if done all at once. There are 145 miles of combined pipe to replace.
South Everett, which was built up after these combined pipes were obsoleted, is not affected as most pipes there are