Water main break leaves messy sewage backup in Lakeville - KMSP-TV

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PHOTOS: Water main break leaves messy sewage backup in Lakeville

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LAKEVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) -

It's been a "messy" three days for at least 16 people in Lakeville -- literally. A water main break caused sewage to back into their homes, and those dealing with the damage wonder who is going to pay for it.

The city or the homeowners? That is the question Sandy Nokleby and her husband, Jim, are pondering. The pair told Fox 9 News nothing but good karma has come their way since they built their Lakeville home 36 years ago.

"We've been extremely fortunate here," Sandy Nokleby said.

Until Sunday night, that is.

According to the Noklebys, a stroke of bad luck apparently seeped inside their home at about 8 p.m. three days ago. A disturbing gurgling noise coming from the Noklebys' basement alerted them something was terribly wrong.

"He opened the laundry room door and then we came upon about 3 inches of sludge in there," Sandy Nokleby recalled.

There was so much, the couple even started baling sewage out of their front door.

"We're not spring chickens, so it's a lot to contend with," Sandy Nokleby said. "There are a few times you just go, ‘Oh, Geez!' "

The sewage sprung out after a 6-inch water main broke at the intersection of Fernando Way and Findlay ways, and about 10 homes with 16 residents inside are affected. Worse still, the homeowners cleaning up the slop tell Fox 9 News they face thousands of dollars in repairs.

"We're on a fixed income, retired, and we're trying to do the work ourselves," added Nokleby.

The lower portion of the Nokleby's once-finished basement is now stripped because it was totally ruined. The smell of bleach fills their home, but as it stands, it's unclear if the city will pay out their damage claim.

"Water main broke immediately adjacent to a manhole in our sanitary sewer system, and ultimately, that's what caused the back up," Explained Lakeville Public Works Director Chris Petree. "Water flowed directly into our sanitary sewer system."

Petree said investigators began looking into who will be held ultimately liable for clean-up costs Tuesday.

"It can take some time to be able to investigate," Petree said. "To the city's knowledge and to our claims adjusters' knowledge, there are no homes that are not inhabitable."

Yet for those in Sandy and Jim's shoes, the bill is not an easy one to foot -- especially during the holiday season.

"It wasn't our fault either," Sandy Nokleby insisted. "Wrong place, wrong time."

Residents were told the liability investigation would take no less than 30 days. Petree personally told FOX 9 he hopes to have answers to affected residents by the "next week or so."

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