Contact 9: Homeowner blames construction crew for $700 water bill

(Source: Kristina Smallhorn)
(Source: Kristina Smallhorn)
(Source: Kristina Smallhorn)
(Source: Kristina Smallhorn)
(Source: Kristina Smallhorn)
(Source: Kristina Smallhorn)
(Source: Kristina Smallhorn)
(Source: Kristina Smallhorn)

ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - A local construction project that is supposed to alleviate growing pains in Ascension Parish has instead been jam packed with problems.

Construction crews are moving dirt along Highway 42 to ease traffic congestion for the estimated 17,000 drivers who travel the main artery every day. But some homeowners who live along the state highway say the process has been anything but smooth.

"I didn't have a problem with the lift station, and now I have a problem. I didn't have a problem with the water pipe, and now I have a problem," Kristina Smallhorn said.

Smallhorn said she bought a house on Highway 42 three months ago as an investment property. She said she fixed it up and rented it out last month. But she soon learned it would cost her more to maintain than she had ever imagined.

"We got our first water bill, and it was over $700 for one month," Smallhorn said.

Smallhorn said when Ascension Water Company checked the line, they noticed the pipe was busted. She said the water company offered them a discount in their monthly bill if they got the line repaired. So they did.

According to a receipt from Central Plumbing, it cost $2,200 to fix. But Smallhorn's problems were far from over.

"[Construction workers] came in two weeks ago and re-dug up this yard. Within those two weeks they broke the pipes again," Smallhorn said.

Smallhorn took pictures of front yard over the weekend. The front lawn looked more like a lake. She also learned the septic line is busted. She said the Wharton-Smith Construction Company sent a crew to fix it, but they never completed the repair.

"They came back out, brought over the pump, and plugged it in. We were standing right there. It caught on fire and they said, 'Oh you have an electrical problem and walked away,'" Smallhorn said.

Her tenant Jeannie Leighton is dealing with the foul outcome.

"About a week ago, the sewage started backing up in my toilets," Leighton said.

Leighton said she can't flush her commode, and it is making her house stink.

"I've been putting bleach and cleaner in the toilets, but it still doesn't cover it up. It doesn't clean it," Leighton said.

Because of that, Smallhorn has reduced her tenant's rent. It is another unexpected hit to her wallet she said was caused by Wharton-Smith Construction Company.

"I want them to pay this month's bill and next month's bill. I want them to fix that pipe and the sewage treatment tank," Smallhorn said. "If this doesn't get resolved I am going to contact an attorney. I'm trying to do everything I can. I've talked to so many people. I'm exhausted."

Ron Davoli, the President and CEO of Wharton-Smith Construction, said his crew only started digging on the property two weeks ago. He said the company is responsible for the busted septic pipe and that it would be repaired today. However, he noted the pump is broken and for the system to work the homeowner will have to pay to have that fixed.

Davoli added his crew did not break the water line.

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