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Improper installation blamed for East Moline sewage pipe problems

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The warmer weather is helping some in East Moline with their sewer issues. For more than a month, people in the Babcock neighborhood had frozen sewer lines. Now they’re learning it wasn’t just the cold that caused the problem.

When there was still snow on the ground, Marian Watnem was washing her dishes and hair in pink tubs. Nothing could go down the drain because there was nowhere for it go, her sewer line was frozen. Five others in the neighborhood had the same problem.

In an interview with News Eight on February 27, 2014, Tim Kammler, the East Moline Director of Engineering, said the problem was likely caused by low water usage and the extremely cold winter. East Moline paid to have the impacted sewers pumped twice, but then said it was up to the homeowners to take care of the problem.

“We are responsible as a City for covering our part and they're responsible for covering their part,” said Kammler.

But Wayne Carlson, who had frozen sewer lines for more than a month, didn’t buy the cold weather and low water reasoning so he investigated the problem himself. He took out his tape measure and found his line was not buried as deep as it should be.

A few years ago, the City of East Moline required everyone in the neighborhood to install the system and paid more than $1 million to a contractor for the work.

Pipes were to be buried 42 to 48 inches below the ground, but when Bill Houser measured his, “22 inches below the ground,” said Houser.

Houser and Carlson presented their findings at an East Moline City Council meeting on March 17, 2014. The City then went out to measure the depth of the pipes.

“We've checked depths on five and four of them were substandard,” said Kammler.

“It's great to know we were right,” said Carlson.

“We're not the sewer or water police force and so we're not going to go out and inspect every service in town but in this particular case where we have some ownership in the process, I think we're doing our best to make sure that this situation is addressed,” said Kammler.

Kammler said he has met with the contractor and all services lines that are not buried deep enough will be fixed.