Ruptured pipe: East Moline homeowners facing headache to get water back

Local News

It’s been a long month for an East Moline couple hoping for a permanent fix to their broken water service pipe.

It’s turned into a significant expense they didn’t think they would be stuck with.

The issue started nearly three weeks ago, and it was August 23 when they were able to work with the city to find a temporary fix, finally getting water running to again, while not drinkable, they at least have a functioning bathroom.

Homeowner Kelly Bowser said, “It’s just broken, and I want my water back.”

For Jeff and Kelly Bowser, the crickets outside their front door of 27 years seemed to say it all.

Kelly said, “We were at a standstill.”

It’s been the Bowsers’ headache all August.

It’s after Kelly found water in the basement storage and utility room seeping through the wall.

Kelly said, “Getting cowboy boots for my grandson’s Toy Story themed first birthday party, which is why I went into the room in the first place or we probably would have left for the weekend and came back to a bigger mess.”

That was August 2.

So the city came, shut off the water at the curb stop and the Bowsers left knowing on their return they’d need to find a plumber.

Kelly said, “Great plumber, he’s done everything to help us.”

By the time they had the city permit to start work, it’s the second full week of August.
But the issue was located quickly below the curb stop where the pipe had ruptured.

“They’re old pipes and it just burst and it just started spraying out water,” said Kelly. “Cause there was still lead pipe in there and galvanized pipe was over the lead pipe, and he was able to take the lead pipe and clamp it down enough to stop it from flowing.”

Digging down though, there was more.

Kelly said, “Multiple things that we found wrong.”

The shocks seemed to swell, even taking East Moline’s Maintenance Services Director by surprise.

Easy Moline Maintenance Services Director Dave Lambrecht said, “I’ve never really in 38 years have seen a set up like this one.”
“Shoved the galvanized pipe over the lead pipe,” said Kelly. “So at some point, someone was down there and did something.”

That’s not to mention where the gas line was.

Kelly said, “Called MidAmerican as well because their pipe is laying on our water pipe.”

But the peak for the Bowsers is something Dave Lambrecht with the city of East Moline said some homeowners aren’t aware of.

Lambrecht said, “Homeowners own from the city [water] main whether it be across the street or on their boulevard property to the house including the outside shut off.”

It’s a city code that varies from city to city.

Kelly said, “We thought we were only responsible to our shut off valve.”

And where they have their water main located creates another issue.

Kelly said, “Route 92, 17th Avenue, a lot of traffic, all day all night.”

It’s across the street and to fix this issue means boring underneath.
That’s become another permit, hurdle and the main hold up.

Kelly said, “State told us we don’t own the road or the pipes under the road. That the municipality would have to get the permit.”

“They require different signage, barricades and everything,” said Lambrecht. It’s all under IDOT regulations and we try to help as much as we can and guide them as much as we can to give them the proper paperwork and credentials.”

That permit request was filed Aug. 22.

The Bowsers said they know they’re responsible for the repairs.

“The expenses we’re looking at right now from the home to the shut-off, $3,200, and to go under the road if you don’t have to break up any of the road, $7,500. But if the road breaks up, it could get up to $15,000,” said Kelly. “Right now, we’re sitting at $10,500.”

And part of that process means that the pipe will need to be down further.

“We don’t know how far we can go down cause there’s trolley tracks under here still from when the trolley was here,” said Kelly. “It was only 2 feet down so you could imagine galvanized pipe under Route 92 state road with traffic all the time, the freeze line, with the MidAmerican Pipe over our water, just the combination of many wrongs and no one wants to take ownership of any of it, so it’s all on the homeowner.”

Kelly hopes by sharing their story is other homeowners pay attention to their city codes so they’re not caught by surprise.

“If you don’t know, find out where your main water source is because you’re responsible to that and if you need to, you may have to get insurance to help you with the costs,” said Kelly.

Some insurers do provide homeowners coverage for service lines.

Another hope for Kelly is that the city would consider looking at changing the code for homeowners that live along state roads.

Kelly said, “I’ve cried a few times. I said I’m not doing that today but it’s very frustrating.”

Even though the homeowner is responsible for the work, Lambrecht said the city is also involved through much of the repair process.

“City actually has to monitor and see how the connection is on the city main so when they retape the main and then how it runs into the house. The material that it is because the EPA regulations now require it to be copper all the way into the house from the city main.”

He also said for older homes, it doesn’t hurt for homeowners to check with water service lines.

“What a lot of homeowners should do is actually go down to the water meter and see what material it is coming into the house since they’re responsible for it and whether the pipe be lead or copper,” Lambrecht said.

The director said if homeowners are unsure to call the city at 309-752-1573 and municipal staff can evaluate and if it might be in need of future replacement.

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