A Kuna neighborhood is flooding from irrigation pipes, the city says their hands are tied

Posted at 10:17 PM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-18 00:17:22-04

KUNA — A Kuna neighborhood is up in arms now that water from underground irrigation pipes is no longer underground.

It's a neighborhood that was built in the late 70s to early 80s, when a developer put irrigation pipes underground to keep the water from a ditch flowing down under the subdivision and the roads. Now here we are nearly 40 years later, and current homeowners are paying the price of old clogged pipes and both the city and residents say, their hands are tied.

"Now it is actually getting a foot of water underneath my home. It's going up against my neighbors house and their foundation," said Kuna homeowner, Jessica Harris, who has owned a home in the neighborhood for around 11 years, and rents the property out.

So they dug a trench as a temporary fix to not flood the rest of the neighborhood, and give them some time to sump pump the water out of the basement of their rental. It’s water from irrigation pipes that they don't use. Jessica said, "I’ve talked to the city and they tell me it's my fault, my issue."

The Mayor said that’s true. Up until the mid 90s, when a developer subdivided what was once a field in Kuna, they would put in irrigation pipes that would someday be the responsibility of the homeowner who lives above them.

"Over the years tree roots grow in through those pipes and I think as people buy up those properties, I'm sure that no one tells them that they are buying a mess like that," said Kuna Mayor Joe Stear.

It's a problem homes built after the mid 90s won't have. At that time the city of Kuna put in a pressurized irrigation system and decided that any irrigation pipe became the property of the city as soon as the developer placed it under the dirt.But it leaves a muddy situation for the people on Armand Street.

"The developer that put the pipes in, it would be their responsibility," said Kuna homeowner Larry Ellis. But try hunting down a developer who placed the pipes 40 years ago; it’s nearly impossible. "I've been here 26 years so 17 to 18 years ago it started getting worse," said Ellis.

Now it's creating sinkholes in the yards of residents and causing problems homeowners didn't plan on having to fix.

"I can put the biggest pipe out there underground and all it's going to do is still back up and flood me out until everybody else's is fixed," said Harris.

Jessica Harris is at the beginning of the ditch.The city has had a company come out and snake her yard to identify the problem area, but the real problem is, the clogged pipe isn't in her yard. It's clogged somewhere up the street.

"It isn't a city facility so we can't pay to fix it. It's not proper for me to spend other people's tax dollars to fix someone else's issue," said Mayor Stear.

But the home owners are calling upon the Mayor anyway, to intervene somehow.

"It'd be nice if he came out and either forced people to repipe, which is difficult, because I don't want to put that on my neighbors, but at the same time, I can't keep living in a flood zone," said Harris.

And the cost to fix the pipes is up in the thousands, per residence.

The Mayor of Kuna said if you are looking at a home that was built before the mid 90s, it would be a good idea to double check what the property you're buying looks like underground, and if you head to city hall, he said they can help out there.