N4T Investigators: Homes missing sewer connections more common t - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Homes missing sewer connections more common than you may think

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A Marana couple whose home had never been connected to the county sewer system is not the only residence in Pima County that suffered a disconnect. A local woman has come forward to show how she found out the hard way that the home she owned for a dozen years had also never been connected.

"The county came out and fixed the issue with the sewer not being connected, but for all these years it's been going into the earth," said Dorina Dennerlein.

Sound familiar? It should. We told you last month how the Carranza family in Marana suffered a backed up toilet, only to find that for years, their driveway had sat over a pile of raw sewage. Twenty years ago when their home was built, the city of Marana had signed off on a permit certifying that their sewer line was connected to the county sewer system. They found out the same way Dennerlein did.

"And when I saw the news clip on these folks in Marana, I thought, wow, how many more people are going to be calling?" Dennerlein said.

Dennerlein purchased a home in north Tucson in 2003. Nine years later, her tenants went through the first backup.

"The damage was extensive. We weren't sure what the backup was from but it was a sewer backup. Caused about $21,000 worth of damage," she said.

Three years later, it happened again. Mary Mantia and her wife were renting the home. The couple tried stepping on the shower drain, bilging the sinks, and tried to use hoses to siphon the water out to the tub.

"Every day we kind of cringe when we use the facilities and the water flows and we hear a little gurgling and we hope that we never have this situation occur again," Mantia said.

Once it was fixed, the couple purchased the home anyway. Dennerlein is still trying to recover $5,000 that she spent of her own money to repair the damage to the home. She filed a claim against Tucson and Pima County.

Pima County Wastewater Reclamation Department director Jackson Jenkins said county denied the claim for a number of reasons. First because the statute of limitations had expired for the 2012 damages.

"The attorney that filed the claim on the resident's behalf, they included damages that were covered by the homeowner's insurance policy," Jenkins said. "We would not refund someone for something they were already reimbursed for. The insurance company should come forward if they felt they had a legitimate issue for that damage."

The county used a special grant established in 2007 to help pay for the damages below the street. But Jenkins says that's just a grant built to keep the county sanitary if people can't afford to pay for drilling into the surrounding pavement.

"That's the city of Tucson that signed off. That's the city of Tucson's jurisdiction. The development services for the city of Tucson signed off on that sewer line. There again, we did what we needed to do to help that resident out. It's now in my court, in Pima County's court, to determine whether the city did not do its part correctly or the builder did not do their part correctly; we will pursue recouping our investment," Jenkins said. He said that since the grant was established, four homes in Pima County have been found to be missing the sewer connection.

Lane Mandle with the city of Tucson, confirmed that the city also denied Dennerlein's claim. She declined an on-camera interview for this story.

"It doesn't make me feel good. I think it damaged my ability to sell the property at a decent price," Dennerlein said.

As for the situation with the home in Marana, the city attorney is reviewing the case. We'll continue to report on both these cases. If you have a tip for the news 4 Tucson Investigators, email investigators@kvoa.com or call 955-4444.

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