Sinkhole causing concerns behind elementary school in Boise

Posted at 5:13 PM, Aug 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-14 19:13:39-04

Roel and Candice Villarreal live behind the Koelsch Elementary School which starts school next week, the couple worries that a sinkhole next to their property has become a public safety issue.

"It's not safe," said Candice Villarreal. "The concern is somebody's child or somebody's dog could step into this hole just like my child did."

On Saturday, August 4 the Villarreals discovered the sinkhole after their 15-year-old son stepped through the concrete, the corrugated metal pipe had rusted out allowing water to gush through the ground causing the sinkhole.

For the last ten days the Villarreals have tried to figure out who's responsible for this irrigation pipe, they talked with the ACHD and the Nampa Meridian Irrigation District.

"It's been a real mess, a real mess, it's been really tough trying to get anybody to step up and say this is the people that are responsible," said Roel Villarreal.

We found out that ACHD is not responsible because the pipe doesn't run under the road, the Nampa Meridian Irrigation District told us the pipe was not theirs either and they use reinforced concrete and not metal.

The ACHD although not responsible sent a crew out on Sunday, Candice Villarreal said they believe the whole line is compromised, but she appreciated that they put caution signs around the sinkhole.

"We are starting to see seams in the sidewalk," said Candice. "What if a car falls into it?"

The Nampa Meridian Irrigation District alerted us to a state statute that says that if three or more parties take water from a canal that they need to form a lateral ditch water users' association, we expect to find out if this leads us to an answer in the next couple of days.

However, water laws in Idaho are complex and not well known, the Villarreals were advised the best way to solve this problem would be to hire an attorney that specializes in water laws.

"I don't have that kind of money to hire an attorney," said Candice. "I certainly don't have thousands of dollars to pay to fix the pipe that runs however many feet this long this pipe is."

Adding to the frustration for the Villarrealls is the fact that they don't use any of the irrigation water, they have city water, however, the water laws specify that the Villarreals can't do anything about the sinkhole.

"I was told by the ditch master that I can't block, I can't shut off or divert the water in any way or I could be sued," said Roel.