Thornton agrees to fix 35-year-old sewage leak, won’t hold homeowner responsible

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THORNTON, Colo. --  A Thornton homeowner is feeling a huge sigh of relief as the city of Thornton has agreed not to hold him financially responsible for a sewage leak that might have existed for 35 years.

“My sewage was going into the storm drain, right into the park, right into the pond,” David Coats said.

Coats moved into his house on Clayton Street across from Sherwood Hills Park two years ago.  He had no idea that whoever built the home 35 years ago might have connected his sewer line into the city’s storm drain system.

“What we're learning is the builder instead of hooking into the sanitary-sewer system hooked into the storm drain system and I guess they were 7 feet apart and chose the wrong one to hook into,” said Todd Barnes, communications director for the city of Thornton.

The city discovered the sewage leak last week after inspecting neighborhood storm drains because of heavy rains in May.  Workers found raw sewage in the storm drains near Sherwood Hills Park and used an underground camera to trace the sewage to Coats’ home across the street.

Warning signs have gone up around a pond at Sherwood Hills Park after raw sewage leak was discovered in the pond where kids sometimes fish.

On Friday, Coats received a violation letter from the Tri-County Health Department citing him for illegal sewage disposal.  He was told pipe repairs would cost him $9,000.

“I was petrified,” Coats said.

Barnes told the FOX31 Problem Solvers the city will pay for the needed repairs.

“Ultimately in these situations the homeowner is responsible for it, but given the fact that this happened 35 years ago and this gentleman has only lived there a couple of years it was an easy decision for us to just go in and fix it," Barnes said.

A contractor hired by the city of Thornton said it will probably take most of Tuesday to make the necessary repairs.

In the meantime, the city has been using a vacuum truck to suck raw sewage out of nearby storm drains.

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