Here is the “Reader’s Digest” version of this bullshit law that stacks the deck against homeowners affected by defective combined sewage systems: Anyone making a claim for property damage or physical injury must prove that the public sewer had a defect. Further, the person must prove that the governmental agency knew, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have known about the defect. Also, it must be proven that the governmental agency having the legal authority did not take the reasonable steps in a reasonable amount of time to repair, correct or remedy the defect. Finally, the defect must be 50% or more of the cause of the event and the property damage and/or physical injury. Failure to provide the required written claim to your municipalities within 45 days will prevent any recovery of damages.

Schitts Foundation or


Understanding Backflow Prevention This is a terrific reference to understanding what homeowners should consider ASAP. Knowledge is key. I would recommend hiring a Master Plumber who has strong expertise in backflow valves as they have to be installed and maintained correctly; including location, orientation, position, slope including the do’s and don’ts of water usage when you have one or two installed.

Sewer Backup Claim Reduction Program Terrific information on backflow prevention systems. MMRMA distributed this document to Beverly Hills and Royal Oak in 2003 and as far as I know, it was never shared with homeowners.

Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program (BFPSP) The City of Windsor Ontario has the BFPSP which covers much of the cost of installing effective backflow protection. It offers crystal clear design and engineering guidance to assist homeowners in managing the reality of future sewage backups.  As far as I know, B-ham, VBH, RO or SF does not offer any guidance and/or subsidies for sewage backup prevention. The Windsor program could be a model for the communities in Oakland County.

Prevent Flooding Basement with a Stand Pipe Installing a backflow prevention system(s) may not be in everyone’s budget yet there is one very affordable “old school” option called a “stand pipe”. Just like backflow systems, knowledge is key and there are specific do’s and don’ts you must be aware of. One of do’s is that you have to be home during the rain event to screw the standpipe in and then take it out. This guys video is terrific. Installing stand pipe prevention costs next to nothing and it’s a no-brainer next to doing nothing. Talk to a Master Plumber to address your situation as each house is a little different. Take a look at the Standpipe Model. Remember, knowledge is key.

Preventing Basement Flooding by Installing a Check Valve in Your Floor Drain This is another very low cost way of prevention. Since these type of valves rest in the open position, they need to be cleaned and exercised on some frequency due to dust, dirt, debris, bacterial growth, etc. I do know of one home that had three of these installed in their basement drains and shower and all 3 failed during the 8-28-2020 backup event. These were installed several years ago and were not maintained and/or exercised. Remember, knowledge is key.

WANT TO SAVE MONEY? Install a Secondary Water Meter This link will take you to the Bloomfield Township, MI website that does a nice job with explaining the process.

If you decide to put a backflow prevention system in your home, this would be the time to consider installing a secondary water meter for all of your irrigation needs. Why? For every dollar you spend on water, 80% of that dollar goes toward SD or Sewage Disposal. For many folks, this is one of the biggest “no-brainer” investments that few folks know and it has a payback of ~1-2 years. I know this is offered by Beverly Hills for a very reasonable and fair cost and I do commend the Village for offering this to the community.

Let me give you an example for folks who live in Beverly Hills:

The cost per quarter for the Infrastructure Charge (IN): $70

The cost per quarter for the Debt Service (DS): $20

So without using a drop of water, you pay $90 per quarter or $360 per year for the privilege to have water service. A Secondary Meter is not subject to the IN or the DN charges.

BACKGROUND: Potable water is measured in the “Queen’s language” in units of 100 cubic feet. Let me share an example from our 3Q2020 bills.

Primary Water Meter Bill: $193.16

We used 12 units or 1200 cubic feet (~9,000 gallons)

  • Water (WA): $26.04
  • Sewage Disposal (SD): $77.12
  • Debt Service (SD): $20
  • Infrastructure Charge (IN): $70

Secondary Water Meter Bill: $39.06. No SD, DS or IN charges apply as none of this water enters into the sewage/stormwater system, it is absorbed by the earth.

We used 18 units or 1800 cubic feet (~13,500 gallons)

  • Water (WA): $39.06
  • Sewage Disposal (SD): $0
  • Debt Service (DS): $0
  • Infrastructure Charge (IN): $0

If we did not have a secondary meter our bill would have been quite different: $347.81 vs. $232.22 ($193.16 + $39.06), i.e. $116 extra dollars. Here is the math.

We would have used 30 units or 3000 cubic feet (~22,500 gallons)

  • Water (WA): $65.01
  • Sewage Disposal (SD): $192.80
  • Debt Service (SD): $20
  • Infrastructure Charge (IN): $70

The cost of a secondary meter is going to be different for every homeowner depending on several factors: accessibility to your potable water line(s), water pipe diameter, how many spickets you want hooked up to the secondary meter, sprinkler system, meter cost, permit, etc. We have a sprinkler system and connected two spigots to the secondary system several years ago the total cost was around $1200.

My point is that if you’re going through the mess and financial pain and suffering of protecting your basement from being used as a raw sewage retention pond at your expense, you will have a master plumber plumber(s) in your home for days and they likely will give you a discount for installing a secondary meter.

If you don’t live in Beverly Hills, call your City/Village and ask if they offer a secondary water meter option. Keep in mind that some communities don’t offer the program or use this option as a money making opportunity by upcharging the meter cost and/or charging excessive permits fees.




Kristin Rutkowski and Chris Wilson

VBH – Village Clerk’s Office

18500 W. 13 Mile Road

Beverly Hills, MI 48025


City Manager

City of Birmingham

151 Martin Street

Birmingham, MI 48009

(248) 530-1809   Office Direct


Office of the City Manager
203 South Troy Street
Royal Oak, MI 48067


City Manager

City of Southfield

26000 Evergreen Rd

Southfield, MI 48076


Oakland County

County Executive, David Coulter

1200 N. Telegraph Road

Pontiac, MI 48341


Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, Jim Nash, Acacia Retention Treatment Basin, GW Kuhn Retention Treatment Basin, Evergreen Farmington Sewage Disposal System

One Public Works Drive

Building 95W

Waterford, MI 48328-1907


Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)

Director, Liesl Eichler Clark

Constitution Hall

525 West Allegan Street

P.O. Box 30473

Lansing, MI 48909-7973

EGLE Warren District Office

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)

ATTN : Laura Verona

Warren District Office

27700 Donald Court

Warren, MI 48092-2793