Family in South Omaha neighborhood upset over concrete cover up causing water leak

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 10:38 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The weather cycle of freeze and thaw is tough on water pipes. A South Omaha family had to deal with a sudden leak they claim was made worse by a city mistake.

It’s not celebrating that caused a lack of sleep for the Aguilera’s since the New Years’ weekend.

“If it wasn’t for me and my husband pumping it out every hour, it would have overflowed onto the floor, causing it to ruin my bed my daughter’s bed, and all of our clothes,” said Cynthia Aguilera.

Two days of pumping because the leaking water line into the house couldn’t be shut off. The emergency stop box at the curb had been covered with concrete that plumbers broke away today and turned off the water.

Compared to the sidewalk in this neighborhood, it’s easy to see that the concrete poured over this water stop box is fairly new. So, Cynthia says the city should be responsible for replacing all this because it should have had city approval.

Cynthia’s mom owns the house where the whole family lives and they know an expensive water line repair could be on them. But not any cost to remove and replace the sidewalk around the stop box.

”I feel the city should reimburse me for this part because it’s something I did not do, I had no doing in this,” said Cynthia.

Many of the homes in this South Omaha neighborhood have water stop boxes in the sidewalk and public works are investigating how the Aguilera’s shutoff valve got covered by concrete.

“If the city didn’t approve it then who did? It should have been the city so for them to come out and not do it right in the first place is causing me to go through all this trouble now,” said Cynthia.

A public works message to Cynthia says she must file a claim so the law department can investigate if the city has any liability. In the meantime, Cynthia says her family must take out a loan for all the water leak repairs.

“Bad timing after the holiday season,” said Cynthia.

And they say any costs related to the stop box should be covered by taxpayers.

An assistant city attorney says claimants should anticipate an investigation and the decision will take up to six months. The potential for legal action prevents public works from commenting.

The residents remember that the sidewalks were torn out two years ago by a fiber line company and workers told them the city handles sidewalk replacement.

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