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The MHOG Utility Department

Proud to Serve:

Municipal water customers in the townships of Marion, Howell, Oceola, and Genoa and sanitary sewer customers in the townships of Genoa and Oceola

For a Sewer or Water



What do I do if I've experienced a sewer system backup?

For a sewer emergency, discontinue household water use and call 888-481-0439. Calls are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, weekends and holidays.

New Provisions of the Governmental Immunity Act

The MHOG Utility Department makes every effort to be responsive to citizens needs when the unfortunate situation of a sewer backup occurs. Unfortunately, each case has its own unique set of circumstances which may affect any type of claim settlement that could ensue.

To aid you in understanding the complexities of liability in sewer damage claims, the following information is supplied:

  • The Municipality is not automatically liable for resulting damages whenever a sewer backs up. It is only liable for those damages if the backup was caused proximately by negligence on the part of the Municipality.
  • Many homeowners insurance policies exclude damage resulting from sewer backups. Thus, homeowners often end up looking to the Municipality to pay their damages when their own homeowner's insurer denies their claim.
  • Some homeowners insurance companies do provide sewer backup coverage. Therefore, it is possible for homeowners to protect themselves against this risk.
  • Michigan courts have made it clear that the Municipality does not and cannot guarantee that its sewers will never back up.

Because a sewer is not a closed system, many things put into the sewer can clog the system. Large amounts of grease and disposable diapers are two common items that cause problems. While municipalities can adopt rules prohibiting dumping of these items into the sewer and can try to educate the public about the problems they cause, there is really no way they can absolutely prevent this from happening. Other factors can cause backups as well. Tree roots can grow into and obstruct the system and overload it.

The courts have made it clear that the municipality is liable for sewer backup damages only if the municipality's negligence caused the damage. There are four basic questions the courts look at in deciding this issue. The municipality is liable if the answer to all four is yes.

  • Was there a defect in the municipality's sewer line?
  • Did the municipality know or should it have reasonably known, about the defect?
  • Did the municipality fail to correct the defect within a reasonable time after learning of it?
  • Did that failure by the municipality cause both the event and damages?

If the municipality exercises reasonable care in inspecting and maintaining its sewer lines, and if it responds to problems in a reasonable manner and time, it is not liable when sewer backups occur.

In order to comply with the requirements of P.A. 222, if you experience an overflow or backup of a sewage disposal system, you must file a written claim with the MHOG Utility Department, within 45 days after the overflow or backup was discovered. Notice should be mailed to the MHOG Utility Department, 2911 Dorr Road, Brighton, MI 48116.

Failure to provide notice will prevent recovery of damages. Contact the MHOG Utility Department 24 Hour Emergency Department at 888-481-0439 immediately upon discovery of an overflow or backup.

Using these legal guidelines, the MHOG Utility Department has established general common sense procedures dealing with sewer backups. If you do experience damages due to a sewer backup and wish to present a claim, please contact, Utility Director, Greg Tatara at 810-227-5225 Ext. 136 for additional information. We will review all of the claim information and do our best to achieve a reasonable outcome.


Notice of Claim forms are available for download in the related documents section on the right-hand side of this page.

To present a claim, you will be required to provide the following items:

  • Copies of receipts for cleaning costs, plumbing bills or other bills.
  • List of damaged items and receipts to prove the ages of your items.
  • Please make an attempt to provide pictures if possible, of anything you wish to claim that was damaged due to the sewer backup.

If you do not provide sufficient detail to support your claim, the items will lose much of their value.

Reimbursement for the Actual Cash Value of damaged items is the maximum amount payable.