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Liability for Burst Water Mains and Sewer Overflows

Last Post 11/05/2022 3:13:25 PM by Goldenfields Water County Council. 1 reply.
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Liability for Burst Water Mains and Sewer Overflows

26-04-2022 12:43 PM
Clarence Valley Council
by Clarence Valley Council
Joined 01-01-0001 12:00 AM
Posts 4
I asked this question back in April 2013 and did not receive a response at that time so thought I would ask the question again as the question is again "live". Clarence Valley Council has received advice that under Sections 42 and 43 of the Civil
Liability Act we may not have liability for damage from burst water mains and, on that basis, our insurer has advised that Council should deny claims for damages. I am interested in how other LWUs deal with claims of damage from burst water mains and whether
there are policies for "ex gratia" payments where insurers indicate there is no liability?

Greg Mashiah

Re: Liability for Burst Water Mains and Sewer Overflows

11-05-2022 03:13 PM
Goldenfields Water County Council
by Goldenfields Water County Council
Joined 22-07-2016 02:43 PM
Posts 18
Hi Greg, a difficult one to cover. However i have had some experience in dealing with claims relating to infrastructure 'failure' or neglect of assets which has caused injury. specifically those sections under the Civil Liability Act you mentioned.
/>A very long story short, an Authority has the ability to incur failures without laibility of claim as long as we have done everything possible to prevent such an incident. The issue we run into, is that we must have sufficent evidence in proving that we
have undertaken things such as inspections, conditions assesments, and if possible clearly identify the point of that specifc asset when it reaches a conditon 5 or end of life. With that type of evidence, we meet the conditions which you have stated under
the CLA. However without such evidence, we could be liable.
Most claims that i have dealt with in the past were all won by Council as we had good asset management systems in place; however they were related to private property damage. In some instances
Council did still provide some form of compenstation, such as clean up and restoration where appropriate.
However, We did not win a claim for injury where the ground had been scoured overtime from a slow leak. A person injured themselves due to this erosion
of the road reserve that council 'failed' to identify or correct in an appropriate timeframe.
In terms of policy provisions for an Authority to manage these issues. it really comes down to due diligance in a sense of asset management. Everything else
is very hard to fix as a policy condition and can be contested. Additionally, most Councils also provide some form of compensation due to "reputational" requirements as well. I would be very interested to see if there was any legal feedback that could be provided
by Snowy's when their reservoir failed and damaged houses. It could provide some more clarity for us on such claims under the CLA?
Geoff Veneris
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