Martinez homeowner to receive sewer payments refund

A Martinez man who paid Columbia County for sewer service for 20 years will get all of his money back, the Columbia County Commission had decided.


William Jenkins, a resident of the West Lake subdivision, will receive the $5,000 he paid to Columbia County Water Utility for sewer service he didn't need, or use, because he only recently discovered he has a septic tank.

He found this out after experiencing plumbing trouble earlier this year. When he bought the home, Jenkins said, he assumed it was on the county sewer system because he lives on Stevens Creek Road.

Officials said the county is liable only for up to four years of payments. Still, Water Utility Director Bill Clayton said his office offered Jenkins $3,000, which was double the cost Jenkins said he incurred in fixing his plumbing problems.

However, Jenkins, who didn't attend the Thursday meeting, wanted all his money back.

"Why should one party (benefit) and the other party suffer?" he asked county Public Works Committee members last week.

In that same meeting, Clayton noted it was Jenkins' responsibility to know whether he had a septic tank.

"There has to be some limitation at some point in time to the point of forever," Clayton said of fully reimbursing Jenkins.

However, commissioners sided with Jenkins.

"I think this is the right thing to do," commission Chairman Ron Cross said of reimbursing Jenkins for all his payments. "I don't think there should be a statute of limitations on errors."

Sewer payments are calculated based on water usage during the winter months, not actual sewer usage. Jenkins does have water service through the county.