Livermore Falls denies business owner's request to pay entire plumbing bill

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Jul. 22—LIVERMORE FALLS — Selectmen voted 4-0, with one abstention, Tuesday to deny a request by a business owner to pay the entire plumber's bill for a sewer backup into her building that was caused by a plugged main May 28 on Park Street/Route 133.

Brenda Brochu, owner of BB Events and Rentals, which is in the former Bowen Brothers Jeep building, requested the town pay $433.84, the total cost to have a plumber take care of the backup.

The Sewer Department had paid $216.92, which covered half.

Brochu said she initially noticed seepage around the toilet and thought the wax seal was leaking. She called a plumber and cleaned up the raw sewage. A representative of A. Maurais & Son Plumbing Inc. in Jay called the Livermore Falls Sewer Department to confirm the main was clear and flowing, Superintendent Mark Holt said.

Holt had an on-call employee respond to the site to check the main and once there, they asked the plumber to run a snake through the clean-out line, which was in the pavement in front of the building. The service line did not clear, Holt said, so the manhole was opened and the main line was found to be backed up. The department had Vortex Co. of Livermore clear the line.

When a plug or backup in a sewer service line is reported to area plumbers, they have been made aware that they must first call the Sewer Department before performing any work, so that the town can check to be sure the problem is not in the street, he said.

Because the plumber was on site and had performed work before notifying the Sewer Department, and a town department employee had requested the plumber run a snake down the line, Holt said he thought it would be "fair and equitable split to share the cost of the plumbers' services 50-50.

"Any work performed prior to calling the Sewer Department will not be paid for by the Sewer Department," he said.

Brochu said the plug happened in the street on the town's line and it was the reason the sewage backed up, therefore the town should cover the full amount of the bill.

"We spend a lot of money in this town," she said.

Town Manager Amanda Allen said the department has never paid unless they were first notified that a problem had occurred.

"We are offering to pay half. I think that is fair," she said.

A notice will be sent out with the next sewer quarter bill notifying residents to call the Sewer Department before the plumber responds to troubleshoot sewer service line blockages and/or backups, Holt said. Plumbers will also be made aware and he advised anyone who's plumbing connects to the town mains should also have a back-flow preventer in place to stop sewage from backing up into a building.

Chairman Jeff Bryant abstained from voting due to potential conflict of interest, because he has a relative who works for the plumbing company.

NOTE: A quote by Mark Holt should have said: "Any work performed prior to calling the Sewer Department will not be paid for by the Sewer Department," he said. It was a reporting error.

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