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City considered 150 of 277 brown-water damage claims, pays out 15

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Brown water fills a bathroom sink in a Winnipeg home in September 2013.

ADAM WAZNY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Brown water fills a bathroom sink in a Winnipeg home in September 2013. Photo Store

A North Kildonan woman and a city councillor say they don’t understand why civic officials have restricted settlements for brown water damage claims to a narrow three-month window of 2013.

Rose Pelland said she filed two claims to the city after her laundry was damaged in incidents in September 2012 and again in May 2013 and both were rejected.

"It seems to me that the city only began paying claims when the mayor said he had brown water," Pelland said. "Why were the brown water claims before August 2013 not as valid as those between August and October, 2013?"

Civic officials this week confirmed that it has settled only 15 claims for laundry damaged by brown water last year but the claims period is only from August 1 to Oct. 31, 2013.

A civic spokeswoman said each claim was for less than $50.

Coun. Dan Vandal said he doesn’t understand why the city isn’t still recognizing claims filed after Oct. 31.

Vandal, who is credited with convincing council to reverse a provision in the City Charter which absolves the city from any responsibility for damages caused by discoloured water, said August 1 was the start date because it’s believed that was when the number of claims spiked.

But Vandal said he doesn’t support an end date, adding he’ll be pursuing the issue with Mayor Katz and the public works committee.

The city has been plagued by sporadic outbreaks of discoloured water for several years but the numbers doubled in 2013 and civic officials were unable to explain why – even after hiring two consultants to look into the issue.

Before Vandal raised the claims issue in September, city staff rejected every claim for compensation outright. Council agreed that was wrong.

Vandal said a report on the cause of the brown water problem is due this month.

A City of Winnipeg spokeswoman said the city received a total of 277 discoloured water damage claims for 2013 but only considered 150 of those claims, involving damaged laundry between August 1 – Oct. 31.

Of the 150 laundry claims, the city has settled with 15 individuals, paying out less than $50 for each claim.

Of the others: 48 did not meet the city’s rigid criteria necessary to qualify; 66 claimants chose not to pursue the matter; and 21 claims remain outstanding.

Criteria for Brown Water Damage Claims*

You must provide:

  • The exact date and time of the discoloured water event.
  • Evidence that damage to your laundry is directly related to the City’s water supply.
  • An itemized list of all damaged articles upon request.
  • Damaged articles for inspection upon request.
  • Receipts for the purchase price of the damaged articles.

The damage must:

  • Have rendered the items no longer useful.
  • Be consistent with similar reports of discoloured water on or near the date and location.
  • Have occurred between August 1, 2013 and Oct. 31, 2013.
  • Have been reported to 311 within 14 days of the date of the discoloured water event.

The City will consider reasonable dry-cleaning receipts, or receipts for the purchase of specialized laundry products, as part of your compensation if you took steps to reduce the damage but were unsuccessful.

*City of Winnipeg

 

Complete criteria is available at: http://winnipeg.ca/finance/findata/riskmgt/Discoloured_Water.pdf

History

Updated on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 3:00 PM CST: Writethru.

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