Action 9: Erosion problems for stormwater pipes responsibility of homeowner

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:

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CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. —

Some homeowners are having serious erosion problems.

Their backyards are washing away even exposing major storm water pipes.

Action 9 investigator Jason Stoogenke found out the county, state and experts all say the same thing.

Israel Alicea, his wife and their neighbors have been dealing with this for years. Their back yards are washing away foot by foot, creating a hole and exposing these massive storm water pipes.

"Every time it rains it just takes more and more away," he said.

As the dirt under the heavy pipes eroded, parts broke off and fell.

"Really, that's a safety hazard right there. That's a good drop right there," Alicea said.

The Aliceas saw the pipes, saw how industrial they are and thought the state or county would fix them.

"Everybody else said, 'No, no, no, no, no,' along the way," Alicea said.

In many situations, the state or county may say, "yes," but not in this case because neither put in the pipes.

The developer did and that changes everything.

Realtor Bob Bunzey met with Action 9 in a neighborhood he's more familiar with to walk me through this hard lesson.

"Ultimately, it always comes back to the homeowner because they have bought the property and will own the property and they should do their due diligence up front," Bunzey said.

Cabarrus County said the county "does not regulate storm drainage" and it's up to the "the individual property owners" to fix.

North Carolina Department of Transportation officials said "any upgrade, maintenance or repairs are the responsibility of the property owners."

"Homeowner's responsibility to bring backhoes, and bring all this dirt, try to get concrete to fix all this," Alicea said. "We don't have any experience in that."

Even if they did, he said they couldn't afford it. They priced it out and it would cost $32,000 to fix it.

They could go after the developer in court, but they'd have to show the developer is at fault and that too much time hasn't already passed.