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2012-12-03 at 23:03

Lawyer angered

By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
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The lawyer representing one of two potential multimillion class-action lawsuits being levelled at the city said he can’t believe a $1.4-million fix was all that was needed to prevent flooding at the Atlantic Avenue Sewage Treatment Plant.

Sandy Zaitzaff said it just strengthens his resolve to sue the city on behalf of victims of the May 28 flood disaster, continuing to blame the city for raw sewage backing up into people’s basements in low-lying areas of Thunder Bay.

“I was shocked at the low number that it would have taken to prevent this; $1.4 million and there would have been no flood,” Zaitzaff said. “That is shocking, that is appalling. That’s a simple fix. The city should have had that in place long before this.”

City officials, however, contend otherwise, pointing out the sewage treatment plant operated as it was expected, was designed to handle amounts of water nearly 10 times the daily average and couldn’t have been expected to deal with the amount of rain that fell and besieged the city’s sewer system.

Zaitzaff was also angered to learn the fixes – an emergency bypass system and faster screen cleaners to allow water to flow more freely – have been increasingly implemented in many other communities over the past decade, albeit mostly in new construction.

City manager Tim Commisso said he’s confident with what he heard from the consultants, which included engineer Troy Briggs and weather expert Graham Saunders, that the city wasn’t at fault.

“We have a plant that well exceeded the capacity, as it was described tonight. What we’re dealing with is a weather event that exceeded our expectations. And I’ll say that. Our plant functioned well and did the best it could under the circumstances. It’s just the flows under the amount of water exceeded that,” Commisso said.

He added in hindsight its easy to suggest what should or shouldn't have been done.

"We have done everything that we can and I think what you heard tonight is our plant certainly meets the standards it was designed for and goes beyond that."

According to Saunders, 93.1 millilitres of rain fell, beginning about midnight, on May 28. The rain fell at record rates, and combined with more than 60 millilitres of rain that fell in the five days leading up to the flood, conditions were perfect for excess water to accumulate, as it had nowhere to go.

Briggs said it's important to realize the $1.45-million fix he is proposing would only have protected the plant itself, and would not have prevented water from backing up in the sewer system.

"It wouldn't have necessarily stopped any flooding within the system. The flows that came were just beyond what the plant could even pump. Because we couldn't pump it, it means it had to back up in the system. Even if we could have protected the plant doesn't mean we could have stopped the event itself and catastrophe we had on the residents of the city," Briggs said.

"Again, this was a very complex situation. It's something that we will certainly look at and go forward," Commisso added, when questioned why the bypass wasn't already in place. "It's a commitment we're making and continue to make, putting in place everything we can. This will be another measure."

Zaitzaff said the explanations don't wash.

"The plant had design problems," he maintained. "The plant did not work properly. Their screens clogged. The screens should not clog. The design of the screen themselves and the rakes were improper. They just told us that."

The city is facing a pair of class-action lawsuits over the disaster, each valued at more than $500 million. Neither suit has been certified in court and cannot proceed until such time.

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Comments

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sky high says:
Well Sandy, of course you're upset....you see the possibilty of millions of dollars in your own bank account going down the drain so to speak. Why don't you go door to door in the flood zone and advise the people to put backflow prevention valves over their drains? And while you're at it you can suggest they buy some house insurance. But then again if you do that you have a zero chance of getting rich at the taxpayers expense
12/3/2012 11:27:22 PM
Tiredofit says:
Question is, did the city advise all low lying residents to install backflow valves? That's the question that should be asked. If they did, no case. However I doubt they or the insurance companies warned anyone.
12/4/2012 7:02:17 AM
raen_rfm says:
That is like the city telling you to put on a warm jacket in winter because you might catch a cold. C'mon, you choose to buy a house without finding out if it's in a potential flood plain, then you're at fault for buying it, or doing the appropriate upgrades (backflow valves and foundation wrapping) to prevent it?
12/4/2012 10:23:31 AM
Tiredofit says:
I disagree, if that's the case then the Real Estate Board/agents need to disclose that information at the time of sale, or when you pay your land transfer taxes etc.. You can't assume it's a flood plan simply because its low lying. That's like saying because you live close to the airport your in the direct path of a potential crash I should be prepaid for it.

The city simply didn't take proper precautions on this, they should have had staff in place to monitor it, after all it's a potential flood plain as you put it, they should have known better, have been prepared for it etc... If they had done this work in the first place it wouldn't have happened based on this report, or it's assumed (and you know what they say about assuming)
12/4/2012 2:11:52 PM
raen_rfm says:
The plant is designed to run on it's own, and when it reached alarm levels a city worker was dispatched to the site...what else do you want, should he have jumped in and start bailing water?

As for buying a house, it's buyer beware, but certainly the agent is obliged to tell you or you could sue them and the previous owner for not disclosing this information, so direct your law suit in that direction, otherwise you assumed a certain amount of risk that this could happen and it would behoove you to install backflow valve and membrane on your foundation if you want to sleep at night. Why should I pay higher insurance premiums because people were unwilling to take their own precautions?
12/4/2012 3:53:53 PM
conker2012 says:
Unfortuneately there is little you can do to to prepare for a plane crashing into your house. It is an accepted risk of living in the direct flight path. The odds of you being hit by a plane a so small that the actual risk is considered null and void is most cases.

It is not feasible to plan for such a disaster and take the preventative measures on the sewer system. The diameter of the pipes would have to be sooo large that it would not be feasible for them to be connected to the STP. The pipes handled the initial maximum capacity of the plant at 766Ml/day before any backup had occured. Had the pipes been larger then it is easier for the plant to be overwhelmed when a freak accident like this occurs.

The only way to prevent this flooding from entering the homes is backwater valves. Nothing else. According to my insurance agent these valves will come with a discount on your insurance. This is because backups are the most common claim made.
12/4/2012 4:27:50 PM
Tiredofit says:
Conker2012 I do agree with you and raen_rfm to a point, however like you said, can cant anticipate this and personally I think the city should have had staff at the site to monitor it in a situation such as this. However I'm sure it was the city simply trying to not having to pay out OT, however when the potential is there, an ounce of prevention could have possibly reduced some of the damage (or not)

Raen_frm is basically staying tough, it's your fault for not being prepared, like the city, the residents probably didn't expect it happen either. What's done is done, who's at fault? Hard to say at his point, the city will do what it can to protect itself from potential liability (and its citizens) , they wouldn't produce and publicize a report that would show them fully at fault, after all, consultants are paid to prove your point, reports to the contrary will be buried away.
12/5/2012 3:33:05 PM
raen_rfm says:
The plant runs on it's own, like I said, what would you have this person do in the face of this water onslaught? Change the laws of physics? Wave his hand and re-design the plant so it could handle a billion litres of water?

I'm not saying tough, I'm saying don't expect ME to pay for something that could have been prevented by the addition of a simple device connected to your home, but chose not to install. I had water in my basement and a couple minor things got damaged, but I didn't even make a claim against my insurance because it wasn't worth affecting my premium. But now because of a small group of people going after the city for a bailout, I (albeit indirectly) will have to foot the bill for those few.

Nobody takes responsibility for their lives or their kids or their pets anymore, everyone looks elsewhere to place blame, so sick of it. You are the captain of your life if things are going bad for you it's not my fault, maybe it's yours.
12/5/2012 4:23:31 PM
zamindar says:
Can we PLEASE have the prosecutors pay the costs of the defense should they lose this ridiculous lawsuit.....Of course inflated to maybe 30 or 40 times the actual cost complete with pain and suffering for each of the city tax payers..Oh and of course Sandy i get it "your just doing your job trying to make this world a better place by providing justice to the innocent victims of mother nature*
12/4/2012 11:46:02 AM
mercy mercy me says:
sounds like there is still more sewage being spewed
12/3/2012 11:43:37 PM
CanadaLynx says:
Zaitzaff - if you are really that angry with the city and genuinely care about the residents of Thunder Bay who have been hurt severely by flood damage, please show the city how much integrity, honour, and empathy you possess, and take on this case for free. If this is not your intention - shame on you for capitalizing on the misfortune of Thunder Bay residents. You stand to gain monitarily much more than the residents who have been devastated by the flooding ever will.
12/3/2012 11:48:15 PM
hotchoc says:
I am no lawyer.

But the city just said the facility operated as it was designed to but that excessive rain was the culprit. Lets take them at their word.

Well five days previous, we had a large rain fall, then came the big one.

Was the city surprised that more rain was coming. Was the facility manned continuously. Did they have an emergency back-up plan in the event the amount of water exceeded the design specs.

To tell us taxpayers not to worry because the system did what it was designed to do, does not clear the city of civil liability.

You do not need to be a lawyer to understand that.
12/3/2012 11:51:55 PM
Sui Generis says:
Precisely.

Let's consider an analogy. It snows, and I go outside and shovel the sidewalk, the driveway and my stairs. I put down salt, and do everything in my power to make sure it's safe. Someone comes over, climbs my stairs and slips and falls.

I did everything in my power to prevent it. However, legally, I am STILL liable.

I don't care if the city did everything they were supposed to do or not. And personally, I don't believe they did. However, even if they did, that does NOT relieve them of the financial responsibility that thousands of citizens incurred due to their failed sewage plant.
12/4/2012 2:32:21 AM
conker2012 says:
No entirely. If the person is not wearing proper footwear for the conditions (similar to not installing backflow preventer)then you are not liable for their lack of planning. If they slip and fall while wearing 8" heals when it is snowing they are responsible for their action aswell. Yet again you are not an expert and I don't care what you think. I care what the experts think and so will the judge.
12/4/2012 10:51:37 AM
raen_rfm says:
Your analogy doesn't make any sense. It isn't automatic that you are libel, it's up to the person falling to pursue that in court, and I'm sure if you took every available action to ensure your property is safe, the court would find in your favour, which will be the case with this ludicrous court case against the city.
12/4/2012 11:35:53 AM
Tom Sanderson says:
It's all about the money......
If ya all had outhouse's and the ground water filled the hole I guess that would be the cities problem too.
Give it up...the consultant filed a report and Mother Nature is to blame.
Watch out for that curb when your street light burns out...don't want a trip and fall accident.
12/4/2012 4:03:59 PM
sky high says:
Well you certainly sound like a lawyer because you're refusing to accept the facts: Even if there were five days of rain preceding the big storm, that isn't enough time for the City to upgrade their sewer system. It will take 15 months. Thunder Bay's system is on par with city's of similar size--the newer systems are always installed in brand new sewage plants. And EVEN IF this new system had been installed, this still would not have prevented your house from receiving sewage...it would have saved the plant itself, but not your house. To save your house, you should have installed a backflow prevention valve. So, you neglected to use due diligence and the result is that the City is not liable. But then again you sound like a lawyer so the facts won't sway you.
12/4/2012 8:34:28 AM
Tim H. says:
Youre not as smart as you think you are.

People's homes became inundated with sewage because the plant failed. People's homes were destroyed because the city permitted excess storm water to overwhelm the "sewage" treatment plant.

Excess rain and storm waters have been overtaxing the sanitary sewers for a long time in this city, and theres plenty of prior documented problems arising from it.

The problem isnt the storm, the problem is the city has repeatedly neglected to recitify these problems even though the faults had been previously identified.

Which leads us to the underlying problem:

We have had city councils and city management both current and past that have wantonly neglected their duty to address these faults and have in fact chosen to chase grandiose ideas that have repeatedly used our tax dollars in ways not allowed under the municipal act.

The lawsuit? Its still full speed ahead because the city's findings are as predictable as we all planned for.
12/4/2012 12:41:03 PM
raen_rfm says:
Hey Tim, I sure hope you're gonna pick up the tab for this new super treatment plant you have in mind. The design of something like this you have to make certain assumptions and make compromises. If money were no object then yeah spend a billion dollars on a bulletproof water treatment plant, but that's not reality, a place people like yourself are not in tune with.

If you designed everything in life to withstand the most extreme conditions that may or may not occur or very infrequently then everything would cost millions of dollars. Want a car that will guaranty your safety in a car crash, guess what it's gonna cost you a pretty penny.

Do you think the expert they hired would risk his reputation for a payoff because that is what you perceive it to be? I don't think so, I sure as hell wouldn't. He stated that the upgrades would still not ensure that sewage wouldn't back up into your house, it's up to you to protect your house by installing back flow valves.
12/4/2012 1:21:30 PM
Tim H. says:
I already picked up the tab for all of this. I pay taxes, I pay a water and sewer useage bill. Im paying right now for the rebuilding of the plant prior to May 28th and now after it as well. my taxes pay for the city's attorneys, consultants, and its liars who are doing whatever they can to fill my home with sewage and continue to misdirect my funds to marina park hotels and dreams of multiplexes.

So I have every right to form the opinions I have. I'm also very close to this situation, closer than many, so I know what's going on.

The plant as designed did OK. However we know it wasnt operating as designed. Even Commisso admitted it, as well as Matson.

The problem is the fact that the city knowingly let excess storm water into the sanitary system, even though it had been advised against previous to this event through its own documentation. The city knew this could happen but they chose to spend our money elsewhere, like Zambonis for that marina fiasco.

City loses the suit.
12/4/2012 2:15:34 PM
Tim H. says:
The improvements to the plant have already been identified, why do you require that I design a "super plant"?

One thing it doesnt have is any form of relief. They claim that any passage way to the river would also permit the river to flow into it, (which is exactly what happened at Ford St.) Isolating sewage from storm water is the only real fix.

Ironically all the dim bulbs on this site seem to think that people wouldnt have suffered sewage inflow if we just had 'backflow valves" but yet they fail to realize that if the city had that exact protection in place for their sewer over flows, we wouldnt be talking about this today.

The city has a contractual duty to manage our sewers, both sanitary and storm. They failed to do that. Blaming it on the rain is just a feeble attempt to pass the buck.

The city has been overjoyed to charge us first rate sewer charges, but give us last rate services, all so they could funnel funds into projects they have no right being involved in.
12/4/2012 2:30:36 PM
raen_rfm says:
What happens Tim when they make these fixes and we get another storm and sewage flows back into your house, are you going to be on the bandwagon crying boo hoo because you didn't install a back flow valve? Are you that nuts to think that the city can anticipate every scenario that mother nature throws at us? Perhaps we should put up giant walls around the city in case there is a storm so your shingles don't get blown off. Why should I pay in higher taxes and insurance premiums for someone like you who couldn't be bothered to take the proper precautions and protect your home? You obviously know you live in a problematic area and I would guess had flooding issues prior to this, but you couldn't lift a finger to do anything about it, you're waiting for others to do that for you and pick up the tab.
12/4/2012 3:37:48 PM
Tim H. says:
Why are you paying top dollar sewer rates and receiving bottom dollar service?

I'll ask you again, what did the city do to prevent excessive rain water from entering its sanitary sewers and destroy its sewage treatment plant?

Where is the citys backflow valves? Why didnt the city install them in their sewers? Why did whole neighbourhoods get destroyed while the city neglected to address its own known and deliberated faults continued to put the whole city at risk?

Where are there percautions? They have a contract with rate payers and everything outside of my property lines is their responsibility.

Guess what, the plant isnt on my property. Thus its their problem and their responsibility.

I dont live in a problematic area. Im 5 generations in the East End and this has never happened before.

Its the citys sewers that are problematic, and tey failed to address them. Thats their responsibility, not mine.

You lose. I win. But we will all pay in one way or another.
12/4/2012 4:39:44 PM
raen_rfm says:
Hey thanks Tim you just made my argument for me. This never happened before, so what you're saying is that the city should have anticipated something that had no precedent? As far as the plant not being on your property comment, well then I guess if you don't like the service you get then fill your sewage line with concrete and build an outhouse in your backyard.

I'd like to know what colour the sky is in your world this utopia that everything is perfect and nothing bad happens and mere mortals like ourselves can predict the weather and every permutation and combination of possible scenarios so that you can live in a rubber cell and never get hurt.

Maybe the city should come to your house every day just to make sure you don't slip on your driveway, or make sure you don't burn yourself on your stove, oh and make sure you have a hat and mitts on in the winter. Grow up and be a man, take charge of your life, stop looking to others to make things right for you.
12/5/2012 4:32:23 PM
Tim H. says:
Yup, 5 generations in the East End. Im fourth, my kids are 5th.

Never happened before. The thing is, the plant is not 5 generations old. There never was a problem until the plant came online.

You still havent grasped the concept that homes filled with sewage because the plant failed. The plant failed because it became flooded with storm water, not sewage. Storm water shoudnt take out the plant but the city allowed the storm water to inundate the sanitary sewers, thus creating their own mess.

So, sorry you dont understand how the storm sewers work, nor do you understand the citys responsibilty to operate them by contract (your sewer and water bill).

The city doesnt allow for outhouses in its bylaws. Which forces you to use the sewers, try reading some municipal laws will ya?

Now, the colour of the sky in my world will be green, thanks to the city and ignorant folks like you who think they know the laws.

Also, learn to discuss the facts, dont focus on the commenter, k?
12/5/2012 5:16:54 PM
raen_rfm says:
The plant was designed using accepted design principles of the time, actually exceeded them. If this event was unprecedented as you say then of course how could anyone foresee that it would fail due to a combination of events that led to that failure? If you are so knowledgeable about waste water plants Tim, then I suggest you get to work designing one for us instead of asking us to foot the bill for something that with the addition of a simple check valve to your house would have avoided. I'd be willing to bet your insurance company suggested this at some point.

Unfortunately human beings are no omnipotent and can't see into the future or know every possible event that the environment will throw at us. This event has thrown us a curve ball that will have us rethink the design of waste water plants, but please I fail to see how the city was negligent in all of this and deserves to be the target of a frivolous law suit.
12/6/2012 9:13:58 AM
Tim H. says:
By the way. "being a man" involves using all legal and thoughtful approaches to recitfy a problem or a situation.

Suing is perfectly acceptable.

Somehow I think if I sent over a couple of truckloads of sewage and had them pump it into your home, youd be wanting to sue me too.

Oh? you mean youre not going to rectify the situation yourself? pay for it yourself? Lose the value on your home? Let your family become ill?

If youre just willing to accept that, please provide your address so I can arrange for that to happen.

If youre a man, surely you can deal with that, no?
12/5/2012 5:24:33 PM
raen_rfm says:
Suing is a cash grab. You are involved in the law suit because you don't have insurance, or they wouldn't cover your claim because you didn't take the appropriate action to protect your home with the very least the addition of a relatively inexpensive device, especially since you are so concerned about the health of your family, a man would take care of this and install the damn thing and be done with it.

Tim, I always rectify it myself, that's how I'm built, I don't want to rely on anyone else, that is what it means to be a man and a father and a protector of his family. If I was aware that my house was built in a potential flood plain, (and you should have known this before you signed the offer on your house, if not sue the agent and the previous owner), I would have assumed the risk of something like this happening and would have installed a backflow valve and had the foundation membraned ASAP.

C'mon over any time Tim, you can see what a real man looks like.
12/6/2012 9:39:57 AM
sky high says:
Smarter than you though, because I actually read the article. The city did not 'allow' the people's homes to flood-they flooded because of the freak storm, and they would have flooded regardless of whether or not we had a state of the art sewage plant. And all you had to do was install a backflow prevention valve but you procrastinated until it was too late, and now you want ME to pay for your negligence. Sorry, won't do that. You shouldn't have bought in a flood zone. Okay, listen to this oh smart one: I live in Port Arthur near Hammarskjold High School where the land under my house is pure muskeg. So when my driveway heaves and my foundation cracks or my deck starts to slope, will you come running with your wallet open to help me? Buyer beware, Bub. Case dismissed, sorry
12/4/2012 5:49:55 PM
Urban Guy says:
The plant was designed and built over the standard practice of a 4 to 1 ratio bsed on normal flow. It was built with a 10 to 1 ratio. 250% above the standard. Pretty forward thinking wouldn't you say. How big do you build it? Do we put up a force field too in case the Klingons attack? How over designed do you go and are willing to pay for. Enough money and we could take on Noah's flood. I just love all the armchair engineers/critics comments.
12/4/2012 7:48:14 AM
Ozone says:
All I hear is "waaahaaaa waahaaaa" the sounds of an ambulance chaser.

Good lawyers take their cases to court. Poor lawyer take their cases to the media

More colorful talk from a lawyer with a colorful history
12/4/2012 7:59:38 AM
becker says:
You know what, if the homeowners chose not to get home insurance, they knew the risk involved, the city is in no way at fault for this flooding, the money these people are going to pay this lawyer could very well go to fixing the damages to your home in conjunction with what you may receive from the disaster relief fund. This lawsuit is a waste of time, but good luck with trying to say three east end home are worth $5 million, even with damages.
12/4/2012 8:36:16 AM
conker2012 says:
If you actually read the consultants report, or read his comments at council meeting it is clear that the city is in no fault. I hope if you are suing that you pull your name because you will likely loose money.

The plant has a factor of safety of 10:1, The pleak capacity is 10 times the daily average flow. The consultant stated that this is abnormally high compared to most other facilities that are closer to a 4:1 peak hydraulic load. He also commented that this storm produced 30% higher flows than the plant was designed for. The plant had an event that was far beyond what any engineer would ever been able to feasibly design. The consultant also stated that this event even if the plant was fully staffed could not have prevented the flooding in the plant and the backup that occured in the sewer system would have happened regardless of the plants capacity to hold such high volume of water. To give perspective, one olympic swimming pool of water entered the plant every 3.5 minutes...
12/4/2012 8:41:37 AM
Tundrabay says:
Sandy Zaitzaff "can't believe it"? Oh cmon, you mean to tell me he's not a Lawyer AND a structural engineer?
12/4/2012 8:51:05 AM
Tom Sanderson says:
Boohoo Sandy! Afraid you might not get a nickel now that the consultants report is in. Go chase some ambulances.
12/4/2012 9:55:03 AM
vimeo says:
Sandy, maybe you should go to Atlantic City and see if you can sue their city on behalf of the residents. Their sewers backed up too after the waters swelled.

This is ridiculous. We live in a world where no one takes accountibility for anything. The flood was horrible. But it was just that....a flood from nature.
12/4/2012 9:58:19 AM
hotchoc says:
If the facility was not manned 24 hours a day during this storm, the city can be found to be liable. If a decision to not open the flood gates and allow raw sewage to go straight into lake superior instead of people's basements, the city can be liable. Collecting taxes from people who cannot get house insurance, or who are on a flood plain, can be found in favour of those suing and not the city.
I realize that all of us here are lawyers given some of the comments I have read, but I have raised possiblities. Others have made their statements as absolute facts. Nonsense.

My concern is the city misleading us. I think they are. Nothing is that cut and dry when it comes to civil liability.

But what happens to often in our city happened again here.

We do not like the message, so we shoot the messanger. The possible truth of the message is deemed unimportant.

Lets hope I am wrong and the other great Perry Mason minds that posted here are correct. If not, watch our tax rates climb
12/4/2012 10:56:30 AM
mikevirtanen1961 says:
There are no flood gates to open. The only way that plant has ever discharged raw sewage into the lake was after the flood when they used temporary pumps to drain the drywell and basement. Even if the entire staff had been there it wouldn't have made a difference.
12/4/2012 3:47:12 PM
michaelnigharvey says:
Dear Class Action Lawyers. Please go door to door of the people affected by the flood and apologise to them in person as your unwarranted lawsuit caused an almost immediate halt to donations. and let's not forget the government matching lost dollars to the benefit of every citizen. you must be so proud.
12/4/2012 11:25:27 AM
michelle4U says:
yes, it was a flood from nature and many people had water in their basement from it, but not everyone had sewage crap included. that part is not nature, but a faulty system. clogged screens? ineffective by-pass? that is not mother nature. people's comments about lawyers on here are amusing, and from what i can tell, based on pure ignorance (look the word up if you think ignorant means rude btw).
12/4/2012 11:48:01 AM
raen_rfm says:
Screens clogged due to the sheer volume of water is beyond the design scope of the plant, which is more than double the capacity of typical plants in other cities of our size. Can you not wrap you head around the fact that this was an unusual amount of rain in such a short period of time?

Fact is people like you are always looking to someone else to blame for your misfortune. Sounds to me like the plant did it's job and then some, and the people working there were on it as soon as humanly possible. But that's not good enough for you I guess.

If you find ignorance, then perhaps you could shed light on it and teach us? Don't make statements without backing them up with explanation.
12/4/2012 1:32:27 PM
tbfriend says:
My basement was flooded and we sustained about $100,000 worth of damage. Myself and my family lived in a hotel for 6 weeks because our house was uninhabitable. We had insurance. Now, I have neighbors who didn't have insurance - some of these neighbors have had their basements totally rebuilt from one of the funds that was set up for them. Sure, everyone is ticked off at what happened - is it the city's fault? Maybe, partially. Is the lawsuit worth $500 Million - no way. If you added up the market value of all the houses affected without insurance, I'm sure that number would't be more than 20 Million - most of the people that I know that didn't have insurance didn't have the best houses either. Anyhow, the thing that really sucks about this, its the taxpayer that has to pay for this lawsuit - for the lawyers and plaintiffs, its a big money grab
12/4/2012 11:50:24 AM
Sui Generis says:
"Now, I have neighbors who didn't have insurance - some of these neighbors have had their basements totally rebuilt from one of the funds that was set up for them."

Impossible. The DRF has not been allocated yet (and won't be until at least spring). The only other 'funds' available were help from the red cross and salvation army in terms of vouchers for necessary clothing, food, essential furniture (beds, for example).

There has been absolutely no other 'funds' offered for those without insurance. This is an outright lie.
12/4/2012 1:51:28 PM
theendgame says:
Looks like the dummies in administration backed themselves in a corner. Looking forward to the class action lawsuit, just got a whole lot easier to pick the cities pathetic defense apart. Going to enjoy this cities administration eating a big piece of humble pie, if any of these liars are still around when the lawsuit is settled.
12/4/2012 1:09:28 PM
raen_rfm says:
Here's how this will work, should the law suit be successfull: city's insurance pays the bill, city's insurance raises premiums, all insurance companies raise their premiums, then all taxpayers pay higher premiums and higher taxes and the real winners will be the lawyers and maybe those who didn't pay insurance in the first place. That's how the money will flow my friend. In the end you're shooting yourself in the foot and paying a lawyer alot of cash to do it!
12/4/2012 1:46:31 PM
Tim H. says:
You're right, thats exactly how it will flow, although you fail to mention the victims of the sewage plant failure will also get paid.

And if there is no suit? You still have the same process. The city's insurer will be paying the tab for this, unless their insurer finds them at fault too?

hmm, didnt think of that angle did you?

You se the goal of insurance companys is to make money. They do that 2 ways. One they collect premiums and play the well calculated odds, but the other way they make money is to deny claims. Simply keeping their money works rather well when doing the yearly totals.

So, insurance companys (who get their money from investors) might be better suited to let the city hang itself and deny the citys claim if legally possible. Its the investors and the legalese that will dictate the outcome in all of this.

All of them do know one thing that you apparently dont though... and thats the city is responsible for this. There has never been any doubt.
12/4/2012 2:43:27 PM
raen_rfm says:
Good luck with that Tim, and after the oh so altruistic lawyers take their cut, how much will be left over for you? Only winners in the suit will be the lawyers. Without the suit, yes there will still be higher premiums and taxes to pay for this, but it won't be as high, and at least it will mean that Zaitzaff et al will not be walking away with a big bag of money. It also will mean that those that fail to take precautions or pay for insurance are not rewarded for doing, or not doing so. Why should I pay for your lack of effort?
12/4/2012 3:44:23 PM
gusto says:
Wow, thanks for looking into your crystal ball for the rest of us. You seem to be gifted with the ability to spout the same kind of BS that Zaitzaff has. Here's one for you...lawsuit not certified and denied before it even hits the courts.
Hmm, didn't think of that angle did you?
Laywers lose the suit.
12/4/2012 4:41:37 PM
Helicopter8 says:
To all the ignorant people who have nothing better to do than write childish sarcastic comments....grow up. Lawyers have a responsibility to keep accountability, and professionalism even in times of tribulation. I am surprised the dumb asses telling Sandy to leave town aren't watching hockey, oh wait they are on strike, get a life, and perhaps a real job, for your information the law school might be accepting applications....get real or get lost.
12/4/2012 1:40:06 PM
fastball says:
Yes - I understand.
But to watch him point his finger and sputter with indignant outrage that the facility couldn't handle the outflow from the worst storm in a half-century is stretching my tolerance for lawyers.
I would be a little more charitable if there had been some actual neglect or dereliction of duty - but to insist the that city is financial responsible for not being able to foresee and respond to acts of nature far off the scale is a little bit of grandstanding.
12/4/2012 2:59:50 PM
kwill162 says:
This won't meet with much support, but here goes. I've owned half a dozen homes throughout my life and in each and every case I've performed due diligence and made sure they were equipped with back check valves. The large majority of homes in the south end being as old as they are, were of course lacking these precautionary measures. The city has a treatment plant that is designed to handle 10 times the daily peak average for water flows, and yet through an act of god, the rainfall that fell actually exceeded that limit. Was the city supposed to design a system that would handle 30 times the average daily flow as well as incorporate 3 to 4 additional failsafes? Were the owners of those south end homes not expected to know about back check valves??? At the end of the day...the city could have had a state of the art treatment plant capable of handling a population the likes of Toronto, and if god had dumped Noah's ark water on the dcity and every home had flooded, would we still sue?
12/4/2012 3:20:43 PM
Tim H. says:
If its merely due diligence to install backflow valves, why did the city not have them at the plant?

Why did the city fail to exercise due diligence that prevents excess storm water from entering the sanitary sewers and ultimately let it destroy the sewage treatment plant?

Why is a sanitary sewer treatment plant being inundated with rain water?

When it rains outside it shouldnt make my toilet overflow unless the 2 are connected (which they are thanks to the city).

Thats the real problem. As soon as people like you realize that storm water should have no business mixing with sanitary sewers, the sooner off you'll understand what all the insurance companys and all these lawyers already do.

So tell me.. where is the city's "due diligence"?

They are under contract and receive a hefty fee from all home owners to provide a working sanitary sewer as well as a storm sewer. Anyway you slice it, they lose.

and where was the citys backflow valves?

You only help our case.
12/4/2012 4:09:37 PM
gusto says:
Thanks for clearing that up. I see you were probably first in line to sign up for some cash when you realized your own household negligence cost you money. It makes sense that you would be feverishly defending this baseless lawsuit when you stand to gain on the backs of the rest of the city.

Why don't I just cut you a cheque right now. After all, it only seems right that I should be paying for your new basement. Why bother taking responsibility for your own property, when you can sue to try to profit off the backs of others.
12/4/2012 6:12:13 PM
mikevirtanen1961 says:
A backflow valve allows fluid to flow in one direction, and closes down if the pressure is higher in the opposite direction. If you attempt to flush your toilet when your backflow valve is operating, your toilet will overflow. From that viewpoint, when the WPCP failed, it did act as a gigantic backflow valve.

The original sewer system in the East End was a series of ditches. Later improvements covered them over, and eventually channelled them into pipes. Having a second system that carries only rainwater is a relatively recent idea, and the construction of that system continues to this day.
12/5/2012 9:26:09 AM
conker2012 says:
You have no understand of what you are talking about. The city does not have to protect your house. That is your job.

If the city installed the valves on every house then we would all have these massive vaults in our yards with really expensive valves due to where they would have to be installed. But since the home owner can install them inside there house the cost of the valve is much cheaper and keeps all of our taxes/water bill lower. Know i know you are gonna say why not put one on the end of the street to protect the neighbourhood? Well this does not work because if the valve closes and everyone in the hood keeps flushing water down the drain you will flood the neighbour who has the lowest basement. Then this neighbour could sue all of you for flooding his house. Not good either.

The plant was hit with this water because our land cannot clear is fast enough and we would have more frequent surface flooding instead. One 100 year storm is a better than a flood every 5 years.
12/6/2012 10:30:15 AM
u12cit says:
Once and for all, the question is why was all that rainwater going to the treatment plant????
Too many storm sewers are tied into the sewage system sewers. Is this why the systems capacity was 10X normal. Tried to solve the problem cheaply and it worked until the rain came, so now what? Spending a million dollars a year to try and solve this problem will take a long time. Time to step that up a bit. Odds say another storm will come before then.
12/4/2012 4:06:00 PM
theendgame says:
watkins zaitzeff and the lawyers from toronto who are representing the victims in the class action lawsuit are winners. Can't say that about the corporation of the city of thunder bay, who have a history of losing when they go to court. Expect the city to do what it does best, lose once again.
12/4/2012 4:27:27 PM
downtownie says:
I choose not to purchase a house in the East End, Northwood and parts of Victoria (Delaney side) Ave and parts of Westfort back in 1992 KNOWING IT WAS AND HAD POTENTIAL TO FLOOD ANYTIME!!!!!!!! INSURANCE warned people back then and in the EAST End, you could not get flood insurance unless you were grandfathered in (This was 1992) Flooding was also an issue in the East End through it's entire history!
12/4/2012 4:40:00 PM
conker2012 says:
I wonder if this suit gets certified, will the city counter sue?

This lawsuit is a waste of taxpayers time and money to pay legal fees. It is not our fault you live in a flood plane and do not have backwater valves. This was an extreme event that could not have feasible preparations. The most this would have cost the home owners is ~$1000 for one of these valves and could have been negotiated into the sale at the time of purchase.
12/4/2012 4:41:55 PM
Sui Generis says:
Point #1.
Affected homes were in the Intercity area, the east end, downtown fort william, and northwood. Are those ALL flood plains?

Point #2.
Flood = water. The main issue here is NOT water. It's raw sewage. Perhaps you'd see the side a little better if it had been everything YOU had worked for all your life floating in someone elses feces.
12/4/2012 7:05:36 PM
conker2012 says:
fact 1 - fort William does not exist. It is called downtown south core or the south core.

fact 2 - yes all these areas are flood plains, please refer to the historical records of the city once know as fort William. These area would tend to flood several times a decade prior to the needing floodway and construction of storm sewer systems. Just look at any driveway in Northwood and you can tell that there is high water table issues in that area.

fact 3 - your second point is not relevant since I do live on the south side, but I selected a neighbourhood that has good drainage and I have installed backwater valves to protect my investments.

fact 4 - I helped a friend that has apartments that sustained flood damage in the east end. I know what the damage looks like, but my friend knows that he must install these valves to protect his apartments in the future.
12/4/2012 8:36:34 PM
deluxecustom says:
Come on CANADA LYNX, Did you grow up in the turnip patch? Lawyers make a substantial living off of everyday people's hardships and misfortunes, this is what lawyers do and have always done. End of story..... Integrity? haha
12/4/2012 5:28:10 PM
tudor says:
I would like to ask what steps the city took to stop the flow of waste into the sewer system that ended up back into people's homes after the plant failed. Likely answer--- Nothing.

The city collected taxes in an allegedly known flood plain. What steps has the city taken to lessen the flood risk. Again, likely nothing.

You can beat the drum that there is nothing to this lawsuit, but civil law doesn't work like a criminal court. if the city could have done something or failed to do something that might be enough to win the suit.

I am not pro or anti lawsuit, but I don't want my city rep's pretending there is not a huge risk here. To suggest the homeowner is at fault because of a flood plain begs the question as to why they pay taxes. My system is designed to drain water away from my property. THe city designed that. Are the folks in the east end less entitled to the same effort.

I think I have the answer.

It happened to them not me. So why care.
12/4/2012 5:31:11 PM
woggy says:
tbfriend........ 100,000 worth of damage ! REALLY ?...WOW...
12/4/2012 5:38:58 PM
Dan Dan says:
I wonder if the solicitor mentioned in this story is somehow related to Sandy Zaitzeff of Watkins Law - even though the names are different. I presume Zaitzeff left town?
12/4/2012 6:44:18 PM
seribro says:
back in the 80's and early 90's (i think) some houses were built with a combination system where the sanitary and storm were "combined" and dumped into the sewer so sue them to, those practices were actaully in the ontario code so dont forget to sue the provicial govt and the people who have there sump pumps attached to a floor drain in their house,swue them to. I personally dont think zaitzeff has a chance in hell in winning, he has a better chance sueing mother nature (if she shows up to court). If you didnt buy insurance for your house your need to rethink, how you think (especially in the east end), take some responsibility in your life, this is absolutely ridiculous.
12/4/2012 7:16:25 PM
commonsense says:
I have to agree with the comments posted by "Tim H."
I'll ask you again, what did the city do to prevent excessive rain water from entering its sanitary sewers and destroy its sewage treatment plant?

What is our City doing to divert rainwater from the storm sewer system? In a brand new city, they would be two separate systems, but obviously we can't do that. But, we CAN work towards it.
The plan for the future mentions ensuring homes don't have their eavestrough and downspouts draining into the sewer system. This should have been enforced long before now.
Would we expect a report, PAID FOR by the City, to not find the city innocent? Does any report not "go the city's way"?
12/4/2012 9:43:10 PM
conker2012 says:
Who else will pay for a report on these issues? The consultant would need access to secured city infrastructure, and the city does not have to allow anyone that is not an employee of the city's STP on the atlantic ave site.

Your point about preventing people from having their eavestroughs dump into the storm sewer is not possible. You cannnot force people to make changes to their homes that have previously been approved by the city. It would be like the city telling you that you must rip up your asphalt drive way and put in concrete because it better suites the community. What they have done is make it illegal to replace any of the down spouts that are connected to the storm sewer. New downspouts that connect to the storm sewer system are now illegal and are against the building code. The problem is that most of these old pipes were galvanized and have been well maintained so they are not in need of replacement any time soon.

12/5/2012 8:43:21 AM
mercy mercy me says:
i was right about more sewage to spew, what i don't understand is if all the posters know/knew so much about floods, sewer capacities, all that technical stuff and are so adamant about their positions, they let this happen to Thunder Bay? and now that it has happened, they all have the wherewithal to solve the legal ramifications about to be played out....like i said to the darn coach after the game, you shoulda went for it on fourth down
12/5/2012 2:27:41 AM
Mazda323 says:
Is it any wonder things clogged up with all the stuff that gets flushed down our toilets on a daily basis? Tampons, condoms, cigarette butts, food waste, drug paraphernalia, including needles, I'm sure, your fancy three ply toilet paper, and probably a lot more than I've listed here. Add that to the garbage that's floating around our city and winding up in the storm sewers because we, as residents, are too darn lazy to find a garbage can to dispose of our waste.
12/5/2012 8:51:08 AM
The Beaver..... says:
to think that just a simple bypass Gate could have prevented all of this.Or did the McGuinty Government not allow for such a simple solution.
12/5/2012 3:33:30 PM
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