Geological Event?!?! Yellow Snow?

lstepmailAugust 24, 2007

I am writing this at 5:00 am, another sleepless night in my dream home turned hell house. I have reached my last straw and am turning to others who may have different experiences or ideas and hoping that they may be able to guide me further with this problem.

I purchased my home in November, 2006. My house is a 40 yr old, 4 level split in an established neighborhood with one level partially underground and the lowest level completely underground. I had a standard inspection of my home before it was purchased. There were only a few minor things wrong, no problems there. The only concern during the inspection was the sump pump drain had been routed into the washing machine drain pipe. It was a code violation so the previous owners made the alteration. The ownerfs claimed that there were no known water/flooding issues with the property on the disclosure. The house is located approximately half way down a substantial hill with each house having a lower elevation to their front yards as you go down the hill.

Everything was going well until February 2007.

I was looking out the rear window the morning following a major ice storm to check the tree branches and power lines, etc... when I looked down into the yard itself I saw that there were huge (20'x40') swaths of snow that had turned a light yellow. I had not seen this before and no, it wasn't dog pee :) I referenced it on Google and the closest correlation I could make with this phenomenon was reports of yellow snow downwind from Chernobyl last year. It barely extended into my neighbors yard, it was all pooled in my yard.

One other event occurred that month. The full bath on one of the lower levels, which is tiled over a slab foundation heaved and tile that had been in place for 40 years. (Someone had put tile over the original tile) and all of it buckled in a 2'x2'area.

As spring thaw occurred, I came home early from work one day I smelled kerosene as soon as I walked in the door. It was incredibly strong the closer I got to the basement. I determined that it was coming from the sump pump pit. Large amounts of a propane substance was pooling into the sump pit coming out of the tiling. I closed off the gas lines to the furnace and hot water heater and called the fire department who in turn called hazmat, who in turn called the DNR. My sump pump water was directed to shoot out the front of the house via a 2" buried pipe. The water coming out was a dark orange with a kerosene product in it, like rust and would not wash off the pavement. This was the second sump pump in 2 months (I'm on sump pump #4) and it had burned out like the first one. The sump pit had been draining every 15 minutes since March and continues to spew the orange water. I have not had any more kerosene since then. There is still a permanent orange stain on the curb, down the street leaving a trail for 20' until it gets to a storm drain. It's not the color of Iowa clay/silt, what clay there is in Iowa is almost always a very light tan color, not the reds like you find further south. No one seems to be able to identify what the orange stuff is.

In speaking with the neighbors, I discovered that the three houses next to mine, but slightly further up the hill, also had just purchased their homes within a few weeks of when I purchased mine. They also informed me that their sump pumps run almost as frequently as mine. (My last house was directly at the bottom of a much steeper hill and that sump pump only kicked on twice in three years.) I am 2+ miles from any rivers or creeks at this new house.

I have a theory about what is wrong. I've had the Water Department, City Engineer, and plumber here many times. For all of the professional resources I've tapped we've been able to eliminate that a water main or storm drain is not broken near my property. We've also been able to determine that it is ground water. My insurance adjuster has spoken with their professional resources and the best guess they have is that there is a geological event occurring under my house that involves ground water (Which isn't covered, of course). I had Roto Rooter come out and scope all of my pipes and also scope the existing tiling. The tiling has completely collapsed in several areas and is blocked by this orangish silt. We also discovered that there was not any tiling around the foundation or perimeter of the house only a section that had been installed sometime during the 90's after the Flood of 93'. Everyone does agree on one thing; to damage the foundation and concrete this extensively in just a few months, there must be a fairly constant amount of enormous pressure under or around the house.

In desperation I went to the City Assessor's website to see if there had been any permits taken out on the house in the past 10 years. I spotted some aerial pics for my property on the web site and zoomed in. These pics were taken in 2001. What was missing was the berm that is now located at the point where my property meets the neighbors in the back yard. Apparently they built this berm within the last 5 years or so.

Since the neighbors behind my property are also down hill of the same major hill, but substantially lower than my property they had essentially built a berm on the cusp of the slope 2' higher than my elevation forcing the water running down the main hill into a tight channel sending thousands of gallons of water shooting the width of my back yard to an apex where there is basically a dam and the water is all being funneled back into our three back yards with my yard catching the brunt of it every time it rains. We think the original design was for the water to hit that apex and shoot down a gulley between my house and another house over a tiling pipe that is only 3" in diameter and go into the street. Obviously there were some design flaws in thier plans.

I called the City Engineer and I showed him where you can still see the original water run through path in the neighbors back yard. The City Engineer agrees that the berm is a violation of city codes pertaining to intentionally redirecting water onto another person's property, but that he either couldn't or wouldn't do anything about it.

I can't get the City Engineer to confirm or deny absolutely that the illegal berm is what has caused all of the damages to my property. He recommends that I pay a geology company thousands of dollars to come out and perform an in-depth analysis of the problem and ground water tables, etc... before going to an attorney.

I'm fairly certain that it was the homeowners who sold this house to the people I bought the house from who may have agreed to this ridiculous scheme of funneling thousands of gallons of water across the back yard to a single undersized tile. So, I'm not sure what copability the owner's I bought the house from have. One of the neighbors did tell me that they had standinging water in their back yard all last summer.

The City Engineer suggested I go over and talk to the neighbors to see if I can get them to lower their berm. That's all nice and sweet, but I am sitting on close to $50,000 in damages for my property alone that aren't covered by homeowner's insurance and my neighbors are also showing damage to their foundation walls. We're going to have to move to temporary housing while my house is jacked up and the failing support wall is removed and repoured. This is way beyond a little neighborly chat. I'm thinking that my neighbors are probably not going to be too happy to have me knock on their door and tell them that they have to get a bull dozer in here, remove the berm under the inspection of the City Engineer's office, and then pay for all the damages, which including my damages, the neighbors damages and the cost of removal of the berm and new landscaping, we're estimating the damages at close to 100k. Imagine how you would react if your neighbor showed up, asked you to tear out a substantial portion of your yard, pay for everyone's damages and be under the supervision of the city during all this. How would you react?

Obviously, this far exceeds the limits of damages available in small claims court. So, if it went to trial as a civil case it will take approximately 12 to 18 months to get to the docket and go to trial. We can't wait that long. We sank our savings and everything we had into these houses we purchased last fall. With the housing market in a slump, we have little to no equity to draw on. If the main basement wall continues to crack at its current rate the house may be unsafe to live in within 6 months and may be condemned.

Everyday this week it has been raining and I watch as the pools of standing water get bigger in my back yard and I'm trying to plug the interior leaks as quickly as I can, but it's like fighting quicksand. Everytime I patch one leak another one pops up.

The yellow snow mystery is from the concentrated runoff of approximately 15 houses worth of fertilizer, herbicide and pesticides from a variety of companies all pooling in my back yard where my dogs and kids run through. The health department tells me that they are 'uncertain' if that level of build up and mixture could pose a health risk.

Specifically, I need to know if anyone knows who or what kind of company could come and make written opinions and estimates on what caused this, what would be necessary to drain off the excess ground water currently in the soil, and how to prevent it from happening in the future and what to do with the removal of the berm.

I also need to know whether the typical homeowner's policies of the offending parties would cover the damages caused by the berm or will we have to sue the neighbors for the damages?

Since we've eliminated just about every other source of water other than a geyser forming under my house, and we are not in an earthquake area, does it seem reasonable that if in a very wet year like this one the rain water would continue to build up to the point of damaging a house? Does it sound like I'm on the right path for solving this or are there other possiblities?

I would appreciate any other ideas or suggestions on what would be the best way to approach the neighbors.

I know its a long post, I'm sorry... But, it is a complex problem with a lot of variables...

Hoping for a dry spot soon!!!

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What a nightmare!!
Where in Iowa do you live? I really don't think the yellow snow is related to lawn fertilizer. Wondering if you are anywhere near those areas in northern Iowa where they sunk wells to drain wetlands and found it was allowing all manner of stuff into the aquafer.
What was the land used for before your house was built?
Do you have a friend at the newspaper?
Who owned your house in 93....can you contact them and see what went on? But they are saying that this flooding is worse in some places than in 93.
How about the newspaper....See if you can get the Des M. Register to do a piece on your problems and the "mystery of the water".
Linda C....also in Iowa.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 9:28AM
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You may very well have an aquifer running through the hillside. Depending on the geology of the place, water movement, earth movement or human activity can change various types of soil and move the aquifer or change the hydraulic conductivity of various strata. If some aquitards have been compromised, your houses could very well be affected.
(Although the issue of all that surface runoff seems too coincidental NOT to have something to do with this.)

I would definitely have that orange sludge tested.
Also, instead of going whole hog with the geologists and other high-priced experts, try contacting a water well drilling company. Some may have knowledge of the geology of your area, including existing aquifers. They could do a test hole to check the drawdown to determine where the water is going and how much there is. Of course, you'd have to bear the cost of that. But perhaps your other neighbors might want to chip in?

Certainly, the people who own the berm would not want to hear that they caused all that damage. But perhaps they could deal with part of the problem which is changing the direction that the water is flowing? I don't fully understand your description of the topography, but would digging some trenches or adding some other berms/walls/sandbags! be enough to re-direct the water? At least that would stop ADDING to the problem (if that is the problem) until things can be resolved.

If this problem is beyond anyone's remedy (i.e. the whole side of the hill is collapsing or something bizarre), is there some sort of municipal disaster emergency fund that you and your other neighbors can avail yourselves to?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 3:22PM
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This web site might have some interesting data. Who knows, perhaps you're sitting on one of the fault lines of the Midcontinent Rrift :) In that case, your clay could be any old color.

Where are you, more precisely? This could be an interesting bit of research.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 3:32PM
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Do you have a water resources department in your county? Could they help you out?

Sounds like a job to call a lawyer in on.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 5:25PM
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>Where in Iowa do you live?

Cedar Rapids, in the eastern part of the state.

>I really don't think the yellow snow is related to lawn fertilizer.

The Health Dept. guy says that the lawn companies put a dye into their chemicals and there is something else that is fishy about this that I discuss further on.

>Wondering if you are anywhere near those areas in northern Iowa where they sunk wells to drain wetlands and found it was allowing all manner of stuff into the aquafer.

Im not certain if any aquifers were drained in this area. Live about 2 miles from the McLeod wetlands and creek. This neighborhood used to be a forest. The developer left many of the original old growth trees.

>Who owned your house in 93....can you contact them and see what went on?

I know who the owners in 93 were but I suspect they have passed on. Might be able to contact the children. As far as whether this house was flooded, its a possibility. That might explain the tiling under the basement floor, which was put in after the house was built. I'll try tracking them down.

Another thing that I found odd was the city had put in extensive storm drains into this neighborhood in 1996. The City Engineer was telling me that there was a problem with the company, but they finally got it done right. I thought it was a little fishy the way he jumped off the topic. That alone justifies some digging but I dont know where or how to get a hold of those records.

Additionally, as you look up the street, which was rebuilt in 1996, there are several areas where there are substantial cracks that all started showing up this spring. I pointed it out to the Engineer and he sent a crew to stuff black top into the cracks 3 months age. The street has already cracked and heaved further displacing most of the patch blacktop.

>How about the newspaper....See if you can get the Des M. Register to do a piece on your problems and the "mystery of the water".

I dont know anyone in the media, but I can call the local paper. It might produce some new results.

>I don't fully understand your description of the topography, but would digging some trenches or adding some other berms/walls/sandbags! be enough to re-direct the water?

My house faces due east to the street. If you were standing in my front yard facing the street and you looked right (south) you would be looking up the main hill. If you turn around and face the rear of the house (due west) you would be looking at the suspect berm and over the berm you would be looking down a slope into my neighbors back yard. When they put in the berm, they created a crescent shaped bowl out of their back yard. The shape of the bowl serves to drive water back into our yards with my yard being the lowest.

>But perhaps they could deal with part of the problem which is changing the direction that the water is flowing?

The berm is approximately 100 ft in diameter and runs the perimeter of their bowl shaped back yard. To remove the berm will require bull dozers, dump trucks, removal of several ornamental trees, and sod. It will also require the movement of several telephone utility boxes during construction to allow the bull dozer room to work. If I sand bag along my property, I will have to put up a wall that is 3 ft high to be taller than their berm. But then I would be the one responsible for re-directing water into their property. They have completely blocked access to the water so there is only one place the water can go and that is in my back yard. The damage is coming from under the house. My insurance adjuster said it looked like my house was sitting on quicksand.

>If this problem is beyond anyone's remedy (i.e. the whole side of the hill is collapsing or something bizarre), is there some sort of municipal disaster emergency fund that you and your other neighbors can avail yourselves to?

I contacted the city about this and there is a block grant available to us, but they do not want to spend one time until we can prove that we have the solution and that we have fixed the solution before they become involved. Its a nasty little catch 22.

>Where are you, more precisely? This could be an interesting bit of research.

The house is located on the NE side of Cedar Rapids, IA.

>Do you have a water resources department in your county? Could they help you out?

Since I live in the city, the county wont provide any help and the water resources for Cedar Rapids all fall under the city water department.

One other thing of interest. Approximately 2 or 3 years ago the Iowa DNR got a grant and installed water gardens onto my property at the end of my driveway and a few others on this side of the street. Apparently there was a big fish kill a few years ago in McLeod Run Creek. The Health department guy said that the fish kill was due to the change in temperature of the water when it went into the storm drains. But, that theory doesnt hold water. A water garden does not change the temperature of the water enough make a difference. If anything would change the temperature of the water it would be when the water hits the hot streets on its way to the storm sewers after it had been through my water garden. What the water garden does do is filter the water before it makes it to the street. Seems that if the water was contaminated enough to kill several thousand fish, and get the DNR all excited, then it probably cant be good when the kids and dogs track it into the house Another unusual thing is that most of the grass has died in my front yard and I am now growing bumper crops of mushrooms in the front yard. Neither of my neighbors on either side have this mushroom problem.

Thank you for your ideas and input. I will take these ideas and run with them. If anything else is triggered by my responses, please respond with any ideas.

Thank you!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 7:27PM
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You shouldn't even try to get the engineer to commit himself on paper to what he told you about the berm, but a real estate lawyer could do so and that's who you need to take over some of the load here. RE lawyers can do a lot of the 'digging' for info. in places you wouldn't always be aware of or have access to and they can advise on how to proceed, rather than you're trying to do it on your own.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 6:08AM
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I agree with lucy, a good real estate lawyer should at the very least be able to sit down with you and discuss your options and the approximate cost of each. Try to find one who does a lot of work in your area - if it is something like a large aquifer issue, they'd probably already be aware of the existance of the aquifer and therefore able to save you a little because of prior work.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 9:31PM
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Unless you know the cause of your problems, hiring a lawyer in my opinion is a waste of time and money. You need to find the root cause and go from there. What if the berm is just part of the problem but not the root cause? Gather the evidence and then if there is someone that is responsible engage a real-estate litigator.

I think you have already done a ton of good investigative work but sooner or later you are going to need to involve an engineer to put the pieces together. There is no way you can abate the problem without knowing its cause. Unfortunately its going to cost some decent money before you know what your options are.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 10:48PM
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You do have a nighmare on your hands and the local beauracracy will not help. i suggest a tv station instead of a newspaper. Pictures make a bigger impact and tv reporters can be like a bulldog on a good story. also get hold of your local state representative.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 4:51AM
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Being a viewer of CR news stations I'd say you have a good chance of getting a reporter to come out. Last week did you see the 7 minute long intro on school starting early? We, happily, don't have much "real" news around here.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 7:02AM
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Eskimo mothers tell their children not to eat yellow snow! I see that the original post came from a person registering on August 24, 2007. Is our "leg being pulled" on this one?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 7:26PM
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Again thank you for your advice! I was thinking about calling in a drainage contractor or a professional firm to see if I could get an estimate on the extent of repairs. My logic being that a professional firm is only going to want to give an estimate on repairs that they are positive that they know the cause of... At least it sounds reasonable on paper...

If I keep running into roadblocks this week, I'll try giving KCRG or KGAN a call.

>Eskimo mothers tell their children not to eat yellow snow! I see that the original post came from a person registering on August 24, 2007. Is our "leg being pulled" on this one?

Nope, no legs getting pulled here... I wish this were a dream and someone would just pinch me and I'd wake up and find everything perfect again... lol... I found this forum and thought other homowners might be able to help me come up with different avenues that I haven't thought of and I sincerely appreciate everyone's input!

Thank you!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 8:16PM
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Isn't there a zappa song - "watch out where the huskies go and don't eat that yellow snow" I am sure OP gets that obvious comment about the yellow snow...

Please weigh in once you find out - it is a VERY unusual problem!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 9:29AM
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I am sorry to hear about your disasterous situation & I hope things turn out okay for you!

I didn't see that you had contacted your county extension office. They have all sorts of specialties and I wonder if they could test the weird yellow water or contemplate WHAT they believe was the kerosene substance.

Now, I grew up in Charles City- home of the Salsbury Chem Labs & the toxic dump lot- and I wonder if Cedar Rapids, being the industrious city it is, has any sort of dumping issues. I hope that is not the case but I would certainly check it out.

Again, good luck to you. Wish I had some help to offer but I hope my well wishes are appreciated.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 4:38PM
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Kerosene smell does not come from ferilizer. When I read the beginning of your original thread I thought for sure you were going to say you found a buried heating oil tank. It sure sounds like someone has a leaking heating oil tank dumping its contents. That would account for the yellow snow and the smell in the sump pit.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 8:25AM
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i think joed may be right, kerosene or heating oil leaking in teh ground. if you cannot get an answer, tell the local authorities that your next call will be to the EPA. tha tis the last thing anyone wants, but it may have to happen.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 10:15AM
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We had an oil tank leak and leech into the soil at a house around the corner. The people had the house up for sale and while it was under agreement, the inspection turned up the issue with the tank. I think the ground was dug up there for at least 5 months. I heard it cost the homeowner almost $30,000 to clean up the mess, which also got into the neighbors soil. The homeowners took the house off of sale. It's back on now, and is still unsold after about 7 months on the market. I think the stagnant real estate market as well as the documented problems with the tank have people scared of this property.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 10:50AM
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I agree about the Kerosene smell, only one thing smells like that, kerosene.
How about the university? Maybe they have a geology professor who would be interested in a case study... How about someone in the planning and zoning department?
I would also consider the health department, but realize that if there is indeed a hazard, you may be forced to leave.
I sure wouldn't wish this on anyone.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 2:30PM
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Thank you everyone!

I have been in contact with a geologist/hydrologist that works for the Iowa DNR today. I described the situation to him and told him all of my possible theories. He said that until he can come up and see the disaster, he's hedging his bets on the illegal berm built in 2002. He said that because we had a few dryer years, nothing was showing up, but since this year has been monsoon like in its rainfalls, that is all it took for the levy to break, so to speak. Hopefully, I can get him up here this week or next. He told me that if my neighbors disputed any of this and we had to take it to court, he wasn't an engineer and his credentials wouldn't be strong enough... (great).

I've had contractors here for the past two days giving me estimates to repair or replace everything damaged and I was way off. The new estimates are coming in around $90,000 just for my house alone. I admit it, when the main contractor gave me that number I started having a near panic attack/coronary right there in the driveway today. He told me that if we can't get the water pressure reduced before winter, the freeze will greatly expand the cracks in the foundation and by spring next year this house may not be safe to live in anymore because of the failing foundation walls.

I'm looking for and setting up an appointment with a real estate attorney tomorrow. I'm not waiting for a final verdict before I get that portion under way. The geologist checked their records and I researched what was available on the web with overlay maps, topography, etc... there is not an aquifer under this house. There is one several blocks further down the hill. He also cited the level of damage in relation to the proximity of the illegal berm. Logically, the houses lower than mine should be suffering more severe damages if it were an underground spring, aquifer, etc... and they are not.

I think I have discovered the cause for the orange goo coming from my sump pump tube. On the Iowa geological website some provided the link for, (thank you) I found really old aerial pics from the 1930s of this area. Someone was kind enough to have put a current map of Cedar Rapids over the top of it and when I zoomed in I found a farm sitting on this whole block. The location of my house is directly behind the barn on the property. So, chances are they must have buried a tractor fuel tank or even a tractor under my house. I havent had more than the occasional vapor of the kerosene. All of that washed down into the city sewer drain the day it happened. The orange goo is probably decomposing metal.

I will keep updating this forum as more of this nightmare keeps unfolding I am also trying to hold onto my sense of humor about this. (I have to hold onto something)

Thank you, and if any new ideas pop into your head, please post them. This is such a complex problem that everyones input opened several new lines of investigation.

Just trying to stay afloat on top of quicksand :)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 2:04AM
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I sure hope you don't have an oil tank buried on your property. That could double or triple the quote you already have. You now would as hazardous waste site to clean up.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 9:45AM
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It sounds like someone had a buried tank of something above you in the developement. Or maybe just alot of contaminants in the soil Was this fluid tested by a lab? Was any research done about previous use of the site and the neighboring land? Did anyone contact the DEP?
How old is this house?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 1:44PM
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If it were me I would probably call the mortgage company & ask them where they want the keys sent to.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 3:50PM
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And the saga continues...

>It sounds like someone had a buried tank of something above you in the developement. Or maybe just alot of contaminants in the soil Was this fluid tested by a lab? Was any research done about previous use of the site and the neighboring land? Did anyone contact the DEP?
How old is this house?

No, the fluid wasn't tested by a lab. The day I found it pooling in the basement, I called the fire dept. and they sent out the HazMat team and they cleaned it up and left me these really neat pads that absorb oily substance, but not water. The development was built in the very early 60's and is a very desirable neighborhood to live in. The property slump in the rest of Cedar Rapids has not affected this area. I'm not sure what the acronym for DEP stands for? Is that similiar to the Department of Natural Resources?

Got an email from a gentleman from the city today. It was very odd. He did not have any identifying information in the signature, just a name, no department or contact info. He told me that he has reccomended that my street get added to the list of repairs for next year and for my sunp pump drains and my neighbors to all be attached to the main city line. I thought this was very odd because before we closed on this house, my Realtor said tha tthere was a city ordinance stating that all sump pump drains may not be connected to internal drains and had to be installed to drain outside.

I also asked him for a name or office of who enforced permit and code violations within the City of Cedar Rapids. In a very blunt manner, he told me that the city doesn't enforce that sort of thing at all and my only remedy was to sue through civil court. That struck me as being odd. I was under the impression that the city enforced permit/code violations and would assist the violator in finding a better alternative to their problem and it was up to the people who suffered the damages to sue for the damages portion as a seperate action. So, without getting any help, I ask for the neighbors to remove the berm, but how much should be taken down and at what angles should the landscape be re-graded? Seems a little irresponsible of the city to let people run amuk with land moving equipment and no help in getting it done.

I've got the final contractors coming out next week to give me estimates. I've been having a devil of a time trying to find which Iowa Code covers the illegal water direction regulations. If anybody knows a good website or what the specific Code is, please let me know because I've tried all the keywords I can think of on the Iowa Legislatures web site.

Your suggestions and advice are greatly appreciated!!!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 8:09PM
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You could be shortchanging yourself with regard to information on various things, not the least of which is the business of code violations, for instance, and while I am not advocating that you immediately sue anyone, I still think you very much need an RE lawyer just to sort through the mess, to clarify all aspects, to interpret things for you and possibly help you not to go down the wrong path in any respect. It's admirable to try and do all your own homework here, but it seems to be a complex issue with large consequences, and don't cheat yourself (or anyone else) based on piece-meal info. gathered off the internet, or from some clerk who happened to answer the phone on any given day at municipal offices etc. You may think you're saving $$ by not getting proper legal advice, but you may be sorry. And no, I am not a lawyer nor do I have the slightest personal interest or bias in your seeing one.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 5:19AM
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Have you investigated the possbility of the area having been a former toxic wast dump? Often abandoned farms were used as dumps and then later housing developments built over them. Maybe that is why the city engineer you talk to is being so evasive.

Toxic dumps that have been built over, are a huge problem. There are tens of thousands of housing developments built on dumps across America.

I'm not going to hyjack your thread with my long tale of woe (which is not even nearly as bad as your story) but I have found through some sluething that there is a leaking gasoline tank buried under the tiny city park across the street from me and a capped well in the center of the road. This neighborhood was formerly farmland and later industries moved into the area and were subsequntly abandoned. The area was developed for housing after the war. The surrounding area is dotted with industrial dumps which may explain the slag that me and my neighbors find rising out of the soil in our yards. The city is very evasive when I ask questions about former land use - almost combative, and not forthcoming with any info.

Something you may want to check into..........

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 1:54PM
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bud, in my area farmland was never well regulated. as a matter of a fact just now in the last month was zoning ordinaces put into effect outside incorporated areas of the county.

years ago farmers had tanks in the ground for most everything. many of these were forgotten over the years and later on someone bought the land and discovered them. hard for people to do something about a tank that had been there 75+years, and the land had changed hands numerous times, with the original owners dead and gone. the city has had several annexations in the last couple decades, and everytime they have people bought old farm land and started putting up houses. then they find the stuff tha thas been in the ground for decades and want to go after the previous owner. but so far there has not been a single successful lawsuit, but ONLY because it could be proven the stuff was there long before they ever bought the land.

for the last decade or longer, the EPA has required that the farmers fuel tanks be above ground, with a system around the tank to catch any spilled fuel. as far as i know, the farm chemicals are still NOT regulated in this manner.

i hate to say it, but the lack of information available to you from teh city is probably not that they are holding back, they just do not know and hav eno way of knowing.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 6:28PM
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lstepmail, how are things going with you and your house?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 5:59PM
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Just wondering that myself.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 10:40AM
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Yeah, I've been checking back all the time for an update on it too.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2007 at 12:56PM
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Any news?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 10:49AM
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1stepmail......where did you go? Come back

    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 1:39PM
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Any of you living in that area could check with the offices and people he/she mentioned to see if this was true. Print this information out and see if this really exist, but now he/she might be out of the house and in an apt.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 3:41PM
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I'm wondering---if there is a barrel of kerosene buried on your land, would it not fall back on the original owner to have to pay to have it cleaned up? I thought those things had to be disclosed upon the closing of the sale I could be wrong, but I sure would check into it.
Another thing, do the neighbors say if there had been this problem with the former owner?
Best of luck, I sure hope you don't have to pay to have this mess cleaned up. BT

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 12:09PM
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I've thought of you and wondered how you were faring during this flood. Yellow snow would be a godsend about now in Cedar Rapids instead of the flooding.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 7:15PM
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blue velvet, I had the same thoughts. Compared to what is in the water NOW in Cedar Rapids, this looks pretty tame, unfortunately. I suspect we won't hear from the OP; there have been any number of opportunities to respond.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 8:51PM
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