Northeast Fresno resident filing damages claim against city because of corrosive water

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After 12 years of discolored water, a Valley homeowner has filed the first claim for damages against the city of Fresno. (KFSN)

After 12 years of discolored water, a Valley homeowner has filed the first claim for damages against the city of Fresno.

The water coming out of the faucets in one house turned brown as soon as the city's surface water treatment plant came online in 2004. Mike and Shann Conner were among the first to complain, but now, as the problem has spread from beyond their neighborhood to hundreds of homes, Mike is doing more than complaining. He's filed a claim for damages against the city.

"Basically, it's to protect our rights. We want to continue working with the city for a solution, but a lot of promises have been made verbally and promises aren't coming through. I thought it best to put my claim in to protect my rights in the future for litigation if the promises are not being met," said Mike.

City's usually reject claims like these, which can then lead the person making the claim to file a lawsuit. Mike hopes it is not needed, but said since the city has acknowledged a degree of responsibility for the problem, he hopes they will pay for plumbing repairs. Which, as one woman at last weeks community meeting on the water problems said, are not cheap.

"I'm having to re-plumb my house at a cost of $17,000," said the woman.

The city is not commenting on Mike's claim, but Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin recently said her administration is still considering what kind of assistance the city might ask the City Council to offer residents. The city has acknowledged an inadequate mix of anti-corrosive chemicals in the water contributed to the problem, causing pipes to corrode. But Mike points to the corrosion on pipes connected to water meters installed by the city as an example of the city's greater liability.

"They are sending poorly chemistry laden water along with the dissimilar metal connections and its corroding everything."

Mike and other members of the citizen's group, Citizens 4 Clean Water, have been in touch with lawyers who are advising them on how to file claims against the city.

The city council has approved the idea of a plan to provide a limited amount of loans and grants, but the money has not been appropriated.
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