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Brown-water payouts urged

Motion to honour legit claims passes

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The brown water from some Winnipeg taps this summer has mystified city officials.

ADAM WAZNY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

The brown water from some Winnipeg taps this summer has mystified city officials. Photo Store

Winnipeg residents whose clothing and linens have been ruined by washing in brown water this summer can expect compensation.

Mayor Sam Katz and his executive policy committee unanimously supported a motion Wednesday by Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) to instruct the city's claims department to compensate legitimate claims for damage caused by washing in brown water.

Vandal said he's been telling residents to file for compensation for damaged laundry from brown water and was shocked all claims to date have been rejected by the city administration.

"Those that have suffered legitimate damages, we should be paying them," Vandal said following the EPC meeting.

The civic claims department has rejected more than 50 claims for brown-water damage, relying on the City of Winnipeg charter, which states the city cannot be held liable for any water claims as long as the water is safe to drink.

The number of complaints to the city of brown water coming from household taps has doubled this year, a problem civic officials have not been able to explain and resolve.

Vandal's motion goes to city council next week, where he expects it will also be passed.

Katz said he was disappointed to learn brown-water claims have been automatically rejected. He said that has to stop and claims must get serious consideration.

"I was very perturbed to find out it was just an automatic reject based on the (City of Winnipeg) charter," Katz said. "I told Coun. Vandal, as well as the administration, you have to use some common sense and logic and fairness.

"If there is a legitimate claim and they can prove it, you can't just reject it that way."

Vandal said he expects the city to reconsider the claims that have already been rejected, with the aim of offering compensation.

Katz said compensating those affected this year is a first step, adding he expects an explanation for the brown water to be found and steps taken to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Regardless of the cost, "we do it," the mayor said. "Every single person expects to turn on their taps and have wonderful, clean refreshing water," Katz said. "The (water and waste) utility will have to do whatever has to be done to get it done. End of story."

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 19, 2013 B2

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