SOUTH BEND — The city is offering to help homeowners pay for a little more peace of mind when it comes to flooding.
In a coincidence, as parts of South Bend struggled with flooding after the historic rainfall, the city launched a new program last week that reimburses homeowners half the cost for a “backwater valve” — up to $1,500. Cap
The valve, which may include a check valve, a gate valve or both, attaches to a home’s sewer pipe, preventing the backward flow of water through the pipe and into the basement.
A check valve operates like a one-way flap, allowing water to flow out of but not into the pipe. A gate valve operates like a locked door, preventing water from entering or exiting the pipe. It must be manually engaged.
“Nothing’s foolproof,” said Public Works Director Eric Horvath, “but (a backwater valve) should prevent flooding.”
The cost to install such a valve varies depending on the accessibility of the pipe, but it generally runs about $1,200 to $2,200, said David Niezgodski, a state representative and owner of Niezgodski Plumbing.
Niezgodski recommended a combination valve — gate and check — for extra security. The only drawback, he said, is that when the gate is engaged, it limits water use to what a home’s pipes are able to store.
Otherwise, he said, “It’s absolutely a great investment.”
As for damage from the recent flooding, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal property loss and damage in some neighborhoods, the question of responsibility has surfaced.
Horvath says the city is not responsible for personal property loss or damage from flooding, including basement flooding, which occurs when the sewer system overflows and backs up into people’s homes.
“The homeowner does bear responsibility, unless they have some insurance that will cover it,” Horvath said, adding the city is working to coordinate assistance with agencies such as the Red Cross.
Control Ball Valve Questions, including those on the valve program, can be directed to the city's customer service line, 311.