Sewage problems in East Moline leave homeowners wanting more help

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Frozen service lines in one East Moline neighborhood are causing sewage back up. The City of East Moline has helped pump out the sewage twice for the six homes affected in the Babcock addition near 40th Street and 4th Avenue in East Moline, but residents impacted want more done.

For Kathy Tygart, it has been nearly two weeks since her sewage system ran properly. The pump on her system is working, but the line going out to the main managed by the city is frozen, so the sewage has nowhere to go.

“With having three kids, my husband and I, ya know, we need to take showers, do laundry, cook everything and we can't do any of that because it is completely full, otherwise it's going to come back into our house,” said Tygart.

“I have backed up laundry, I need to send the kids over to their grandparents house to take showers and everything else, it is, it's bad,” she added.

The City of East Moline has helped her pump out the sewage twice, but says it’s now up to her to fix the problem.

“We did go out. We certainly didn't leave everybody abandoned. We did go out on two different occasions to each one and help these residents and I still continue to feel badly about the situation, but when we have dozens of citizens around the city with frozen water services, we're not going to try and unfreeze every one of those so it's just down to an equality sort of thing,” said Tim Kammler, Director of Engineering for the City of Moline.

Kammler said the City of East Moline helped as a courtesy and that the lines that are on the homeowner’s property are their responsibility.

“There are components of utilities that are the homeowner’s responsibility. Their water service and their sewer service in this case, as a homeowner, those are their responsibility, just like a roof on a house would be a homeowners responsibility, so that's just the way the rules are written,” said Kammler.

Fed up with the problem, Tygart hired a drain technician to fix the problem for an estimated $300 an hour.

“You think okay, they're coming out to pump it, it'll work and then it doesn't. You hear the siren go off again and ya know you’re in trouble. And then to hear how much it costs to actually have this done, I mean how many people have that in their every day budget?” said Tygart.

“Someone at the City told me that they had 22,000 people living in East Moline and they couldn't spend all of their money on a few people, so it had to be spread around, but I don't think 22,000 people are having a problem like mine,” said Marian Watnem, who also has a sewage back up problem.

Watnem has been washing her dishes and hair in two pink tubs in her sink, then using a pail to dump the dirty water in her back yard.

“I wish they would take care of it, but I don't believe they will,” said Watnem.

Both homeowners feel the City of East Moline should take more responsibility because of the sewage systems. A few years ago, the City of East Moline required everyone in the Babcock Addition to replace their septic systems with sewage systems.

“At some point ya, they didn't have a choice, they had to hook on,” said Kammler, adding “It's been effective and I think it's been a tremendous benefit and blessing from a health stand point.”

Kammler said the new system has been running for four years and has had little issue until now.

Tygart and Watnem say they never had any issues with their septic systems and because the City of East Moline has installed this new system, they should continue to help them fix the problem.

“I'd just like the city to step up a little bit more, especially with it being their mains,” said Tygart, “It's a hose, it's a 1 ¼” inch hose that goes out to their main that's completely frozen and I don't feel like that's any of my electrical that I should be responsible for, it's they're stuff that they put in.”

“It's a cheap sewer system that was forced down our throat that we have to pay for and now it doesn't work and that makes me think that the City should do something about it,” said Watnem.

“We are responsible as a City for covering our part and they're responsible for covering their part. We've gone above and beyond, we think to help them cover there's, given them instruction on how to fix it, we think and that's just where the chips fall at this point,” said Kammler.

Kammler said a common finding in many of the homes having the problem is low water usage and the weather has not been helpful.

“The weather isn't fair and it's kind of beyond our control and ya know we do our best in the City to design water and sewer pipes and our systems too for certain weather but ya know, nobody could anticipate it could be this cold,” said Kammler.

For Tygart and Watnem, it means shelling out hundreds to hire help or wait until it is warm.


  • Ashley

    I believe the city has managed these systems poorly. I live in this neighborhood and last spring sewage started seeping out my drain. When I I called the city I was told to call a drain company. The drain technician said it was a pump issue and I would have to call a plumber. I found out from the plumber that the wrong size piece was used and that caused the brake. From there it just continued to go downhill. I was not in the area when this sewer system was implemented but I can say there are several issues

  • Bella Day

    I totally disagree with the city! How horrible of them to say their built system is now like the roof of the house you own! Shame on you!

  • justsayin

    Maybe what those homeowners should do is wrap their sewer & water pipes in heat tape, plug it in and if a problem arises, then it will be a city expense. Manufactured homes have had to use heat tape for years, and it works….no frozen pipes… and heat tape is relatively inexpensive. Granted, it takes power, but the benefit definately outweighs the cost of the alternative.

  • Jan LaRoche

    I live in the Babcock Edition and have been without water for over two weeks. They say it is the line between the street and my house which is frozen and therefore my responsibility. As stated above, we have been on city water for about four years. We had to pay over $5000 to hook up to the city so that we could pay for the water which had been free from our well. Now we’re looking at $3000 to fix this problem. I understand the City’s position, but there are a lot of factors they won’t even consider.

    1) In our case, they did a shoddy job installing the water line. A sink-hole opened up in our back yard because they didn’t pack the dirt in tight enough. In response, they dumped another load of dirt in the hole and didn’t tamp it down at all. I was told by someone in the city that the soil in our area is particularly sandy and therefore the frost line moves quicker. Combined with the fact that the lines weren’t properly buried in the first place, that makes ripe conditions for frozen lines.

    2) The city never made explicit notice to homeowners that the pipes between the street and our homes were our responisibility. I have heard that Moline and Rock Island offer their citizens private insurance on these lines. East Moline did not and did not advise us to seek outside insurance either.

    3) When my lines froze I was told this was getting to be a problem in our area already, and yet the city did not bother to make any kind of announcement to homeowners advising them to take measures to avoid problems, like keeping a cold tap dripping. (And for the record, we cannot tape these pipes because they are outside and several feet underground.)

    Finally, I think it should be noted that a good percentage of the homeowners in this area did not ask for or even want these services, but we were given no choice. I could accept that if the city acted on behalf of those few citizens who did want city water and sewer. But I cannot be convinced it was. The fact is people petitioned for years for these services but were told it was too costly to lay out the infrastructure. Then suddenly the city was in talks to bring in the hog factory outside of town and suddenly the area in between just had to get hooked up to city services.

    In America, monopolies are supposed to be illegal. Apparently, that does not apply to people who want to have the choice about where to get their water.

    • mark

      is the $3000 a true fix or is that just to clear the line? If the line isn’t used enough then it might just fill back up and freeze again.

      There is a city council meeting march 3rd 6:30pm at the mayors office

  • Kelly

    I too live in the neighborhood involved. Our system has been frozen for over 2 weeks now. The pipes were to have been buried between 42 to 48 inches below the ground. My husband measured ours and ours is on buried 36 inches below the ground. We told Mr Kammler this and he said “Some may be off a little”. What the heck kind of response is that? He did not seem to care.

    We have not been given any real solutions for this, other than use your water minimally.

    For those that the city told to use their water minimally, they now have no water coming in their homes either. One neighbor just discovered that his line completely broke and is leaking into his yard. His trouble started 2 weeks ago, and when he called the city he was told that they hadn’t received enough calls yet to do anything about it.

    We aren’t talking about one or two households being effected by this, we are talking an entire neighborhood, roughly about 4 blocks that we can think of. In other words, everyone that got this shoddy system shoved down their throats.

  • Ashley

    When is the next city council meeting. I think as a neighborhood we need to go. There is nothing the city is willingly going to do unless we force them.

  • mark

    The next city council meeting is April 7,2014 at city hall, just google search east moline city council minutes and you can find it along with the past minutes, March 3 minutes are not posted yet.

    Maybe the states attorney needs to be notified of this situation, It seems that they didn’t plan on cold winters when they designed it. EVERY system should be dug up and be better insulated, the sandy soil here does let the freeze go deeper from what I have been told, just because your neighbor doesn’t have this problem this year doesn’t mean they wont next year. The neighbor accross the street has a working household as well and they don’t use theirs during the day, they don’t have a problem this year, will they next year? Is my sewage special,too much fiber in my diet?

    This needs to go above Kammler, The enginnering dept just got a 2014 Ford explorer and I am sure they don’t want to lose that.

    • Ashley

      Well I for one will be at that meeting. I done have a house that is frozen yet but it has me concerned for years to come. I think there needs to be a fix done that the city pays for. I have only lived in my house a few years and already have had issue. something needs to change.

  • Wayne

    8-8-15: DEPTH OF SERVICE PIPE:linklink

    Service pipes must be laid at least four and one-half feet (41/2′) below the surface of the ground. When pipes are laid in streets or grounds subject to fixed grades, where the surface of the ground is higher than the established grades, they shall be so laid that they will be at least four and one-half feet (41/2′) below the established grade, except in sandy soil formation in which case the Plumbing Inspector may require pipes to be laid to a depth of at least five feet (5′) below the established grade. (Ord. 99-10, 3-15-1999)

    I found this while doing some Investigating today.

    • Jan LaRoche

      So what would a homeowner do if they believe their pipes are not buried deep enough according to code? Anyone know?

      • Wayne

        I measured My discharge pipe by depth at street access. You should have a Green pipe with a black cap, remove the cap and measure the depth of the pipe. If We can get enough people to call Mr. Kammler, maybe something will get done about Our problems.

  • Wayne

    I just watched a service line get thawed at the corner of 37th Street and 4th ave B, get opened up, It was frozen 67 feet including under the road, they had to dig a Hole approx. 5 1/2 feet deep to get below the frost line, the pipe was approx. 5 foot deep, I reminded Mr Kammler that mine was still Frozen and He said I could talk to Toppert jetting pay them and they would be happy to Thaw my line, I would not have a problem with that IF I hired the contractor to Install My service line 36″ below ground when city code is 4 1/2 feet. Code # 8-8-15, well I Guess My next step is to Contact Mayor Thodos Monday morning when He returns From Washington D.C., Hopefully he was asking for Money to Repair Our Neighbor Water and Sewer Problems !!!!

  • Wayne

    I just had a thought ! WOW imagine that, Anyone having problems or Concerns, Should Call Mayor Thodos monday morning!!!!!! Phone # 752-1599

  • Kelly

    This is per councilman Westbrook. The city council meeting is Monday March 17th at 6:30 pm in the council chambers. He suggested all those effected by or concerned with this issue attend that meeting. You have to sign in and write what you are there for. So Wayne (my husband) will not be going to the mayor’s office Monday morning, as he will be attending the city council meeting. I, unfortunately have to work and will be unable to attend. I encourage everyone who can go to go….

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