Brookfield, Elm Grove homeowners could be on the hook for sewer-lateral repairs
Homeowners may have to contribute
Brookfield and Elm Grove have spent millions of dollars to fix the sewer and storm drainage systems in their respective communities, and now, in some cases, homeowners may become more directly involved.
Despite the public money already invested, private laterals that connect homes to the improved sewer systems remain a problem.
For several decades, both communities have tried to combat the flooding problems, whether it's streets, drains or home basements. For example, Elm Grove alone has spent more than $20 million on public sanitary sewer improvements and flood control projects.
But that work hasn't addressed sewer laterals - technically private property that connects home and businesses to the public system.
Now the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, of which both Brookfield and Elm Grove are members, is working with its member district to identify problem sewer laterals. For homeowners, that means having those laterals tested to check for leaks or cracks.
Because of leaky laterals, the clear water runoff that comes with storms should not be going into sanitary sewer pipes, but unfortunately it often does, officials say. That can lead to serious system backups, which can cause basement flooding.
Not only does that pose a problem for homeowners, but it means countless gallons of water that doesn't need to be treated is going through the sanitary sewer system where eventually it is treated.
As part of this new program, MMSD, which communities pay to be part of the district, will send some dollars back to the communities to pay for both inspections and the repairs of these laterals.
In both communities, there will be targeted areas. For Brookfield, it's an expansion of a fall program in which 100 homeowners took part. In Elm Grove, 78 homeowners near Circle Drive and Elmhurst Parkway will be the focus.
In both communities, the MMSD dollars will go a long way to covering the costs of inspections and repairs. Unless there are extensive problems, the money may cover all of the work.
That's particularly true in Elm Grove, where more than $700,000 is being allocated, of which 20 percent can be used for inspection and the remaining 80 percent for repairs. Village Manager Dave DeAngelis said the goal is to use only village money to pay for this project.
Possible homeowner costs
Brookfield may not have that luxury, given how much larger the community is than Elm Grove. City officials said there are cost-sharing plans in which homeowners might have to contribute for these type of repairs. In some cases, the city may cover the entirety of the cost.
However, should the investigation find something like an illegal sump pump, that will have to be removed at the owner's expense. Homeowners will not be forced to take action, even if there is a failing lateral, except in those extreme cases.
DeAngelis did say that the village could compel homeowners to have their laterals checked if there was a serious problem, but admitted that likely won't happen.
At a glance: Brookfield
Phone Number: (262) 782-9650
At a glance: Elm Grove
Phone Number (262) 782-6700
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