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City Establishes Sewer Back-Up Policy

Posted 02-15-22.

The City of Sevierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a sewer back-up policy at the February 7, 2022 BMA meeting. The policy establishes procedures and responsibilities in the event that a sewer back-up into a residence or business occurs.

What Causes Sewer Back-ups?
Sewer backups do not happen often, but when they occur, clean-up costs are often involved, as well as loss and damage to property. There are many different reasons why a sewer might backup. Large items get caught in sewer lines and obstruct the flow of water. Heavy rains overload the system. Tree roots may have grown into the building sewer, partially blocking the flow. Sewer lines break or fail in other unexpected ways.

Who is responsible?
The backup of sanitary sewage in a home is one of the most frustrating experiences that a homeowner can endure. This process is even more exasperating when the resident discovers that the City may not be liable for damages to a resident’s property due to sewage backup. The City maintains its sewers on a regular basis, but due to the fact that there is no way to control inappropriate debris placed into the sewer, the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act exempts the City from fault related to sewer backups when there is no negligence on the part of the City.

Here are a few steps to follow if you experience a sewage backup emergency in your home:
Contact the Sevierville Water Department at 865-453-5522 to determine if the problem is the property’s sewer, or the City’s sewer main. If there is a blockage in the sewer main, City personnel will rectify the situation as quickly as possible. Please understand that a blockage in the City’s sewer main does not necessarily mean the City is liable for any associated damages.

The property owner’s responsibility is from the connection at the sewer main to the resident’s property.

Contact a plumber and/or cleaning service to have the inside area cleaned.

Contact your homeowners or renters’ insurance as expenses may be covered on your policy.

Complete a claim form, available at https://seviervilletn.org/index.php/water-sewer/2146-sewer-backup-flyer-with-claim-form/file.html, and submit it to the City.

Please be aware that per City of Sevierville policy, utility workers are not authorized to discuss or authorize whether the City will pay for damages.

How can I protect myself?
To avoid additional frustration and headache, property owners should be sure to carry the proper insurance to protect them in the event of a backup.

Other precautions that can be taken:
Sump pumps may not be connected to the City’s sewer main. Roof drains and down spouts should extend away from the house. Yards should be graded away from the foundation. Installing a backflow preventer on the building sewer line stops water from flowing backward and can prevent future issues. If your sewer starts to drain slowly or backup slightly, have the problem checked out by a plumber immediately. Don’t wait until the problem gets worse.