Blame flies all around after Roy homes damaged in water project

By JaNae Francis

ROY — It’s been two months since some Country Meadows mobile home park residents experienced water bursting through pipes, water heaters and faucets. They say the city, a construction company and park officials are leaving them high and dry.

Six affected residents claim their problems started Aug. 5, when workers turned the water on after it had been shut off.

Ann Marie Colunga said she experienced $6,000 in damage when water from a burst pipe flooded her kitchen. At 87 and on a fixed income, Colunga said she can’t get that amount of money.

Several other residents said they experienced more than $1,000 in damage each when their water heaters, pipes and faucets had to be replaced.

They said they believe someone turned the water back on too quickly, causing too much pressure to build in the pipes.

The water was shut off while the Utah Department of Transportation and contractors worked on nearby Midland Drive. According to spokesman Vic Saunders, UDOT wasn’t responsible for the blown pipes at Country Meadows because its workers did not turn the water on or off.

Roy City Manager Andy Blackburn said the water job was a UDOT project, not a city project. “The city is not responsible,” he said.

But Saunders said UDOT does not take responsibility for shutting off and turning on water, even when the agency has specific agreements in place to work on water lines, as it did for this project.

“The cities always have the responsibility to operate their utilities,” Saunders said. “We do not turn the water on and off. The city has to do that.”

Not so fast, said John Bjerregaard, Roy’s project engineer for the Midland Drive project — UDOT contractors did shut off the water unexpectedly a second time.

While he agreed that the first shutdown was coordinated with the city to create a tie-in, the second one wasn’t.

“The contractor shut off the water when they had a leak,” he said. “They had a leak in a valve and shut off the water.”

But what happened next is unclear to Bjerregaard. “I believe that the city might have been there when they turned it back on,” he said. “I am not sure.”

A claims adjuster for the contractor, Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Co., told affected residents Wadsworth was not responsible for the damage.

Wadsworth is the UDOT contractor on the Midland road project.

“Our investigation found that the party responsible for the control of the water in your area is Roy City,” said a letter from Wadsworth to the residents. “While we are sympathetic to your situation, we cannot accept liability for the actions of others and we have sent your claim notice to (a Roy City employee).”

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