The Herald of Everett, Washington
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Published: Tuesday, June 7, 2011, 10:05 a.m.

Sewers created big stink in Everett in 2010

Last year was an expensive one when it came to the city of Everett's plumbing problems.

Everett paid out $872,722 in 2010 for claims related to damage from busted water lines or sewer backups.

A few weeks ago I wrote about a broken water main in March that generated a lot of claims against the city.

At the time, the city wasn't able to give me all the figures on how many claims concerning sewer and water issues had been filed. I've since received those numbers for the past 10 years.

The numbers show last year was not typical.
Most of the claims can be traced back to one incident in June of 2010. A freak deluge dumped millions of gallons of rain in the space of a few minutes. The north end of the city has a combined sewer and storm water system, and the storm overwhelmed it, sending sewage burbling up into people's basements. Around 70 people filed claims seeking compensation for damages.

Here are some other highlights:

• The amount the city pays out from year-to-year in total claims varies, but overall the amount has grown substantially in the past decade. In 2001, Everett paid out around $217,000. Last year, that number was just under $1 million.

• Sewer and water problems do account for about a third of the total amount of money the city pays out in claims each year. In the past decade, the city has paid out $1.4 million for these issues. Total, the city has spent $4.7 million on claims.

• The overall number of claims also is up. In 2010, Everett paid out money on 272 claims versus 139 a decade ago. The average claim was $3,635. The average water or sewer claim in 2010 was $10,389.

The city pays these claims with taxpayer money -- up to a point. The city is self-insured but has stop-loss insurance for single claims that exceed $200,000 and aggregate stop-loss insurance for claims that exceed 125 percent of what the city expects to pay out annually.

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