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Drainage - FAQs

Assessment of your drainage damage

From 1 January 2017, is EQC less likely to consider new claims for drainage damage are  earthquake damage?

EQC was advised that symptoms of drainage damage that were not evident immediately after the Canterbury earthquakes may take five to seven years to appear. This type of damage is known as asymptomatic damage. During the five years since December 2011, EQC has usually determined that any drainage damage was earthquake damage. From 1 January 2017, EQC expects that only two forms of damage are likely to be considered earthquake damage: blockages from liquefaction and vertical displacement of pipes.

How does EQC determine drain damage is earthquake damage?

EQC relies on information provided by qualified drainlayers who take a video recording from  inside the lateral to identify any earthquake damage.

How does EQC determine whether a drain needs to be repaired or replaced?

EQC asks drainlayers who carry out inspections to provide us with a recommended repair  strategy.

Do customers have to pay for the inspections themselves?

Yes (if they lodge a new claim from 1 January 2017). If earthquake damage is confirmed,  customers will be reimbursed.

What about customers who lodged a claim prior to 1 January 2017?

These customers will not have to pay for inspections. 

What are considered to be visual signs of pipe (lateral) damage caused by an earthquake?

As of 1 January 2017, two forms of damage are likely to be considered as earthquake damage. They  are:

  • Blockages: Where there is liquefaction within pipes and there is no record of EQC having jetted the lines previously
  • Vertical displacement: Where pipes have suffered vertical displacement and that movement can be distinguished from sinking or subsidence as the ground itself is known to have sunk due to earthquake damage (e.g. as evidenced by foundation movement)

How are laterals inspected for earthquake damage?

A camera is fed into the pipes and a video recording is made, which EQC uses to assess any  damage.

Does EQC require drainlayers who carry out inspections for earthquake damage to be of a  particular class of registration?

General licensed drainlayers can carry out inspections but EQC requires that recommended  repair strategies are signed-off by a certifying drainlayer (the highest qualification available)  before they are submitted to EQC. Customers should ensure a drainlaying firm has a  certifying drainlayer available before hiring them to do an inspection.

Is there any key information I need to provide to a drainlayer before they inspect drains on  my property?

It is critical that the drainlayer submits their report to EQC using the template available from  the EQC website.

While each claim is considered on a case-by-case basis, what are some indicators of what is and isn’t earthquake damage?

 Earthquake damage is consistent with:
1. Lateral or vertical displacement of pipes/joins
2. Crushing damage to pipes
3. Fracture damage to pipes/joins (identifiable as ‘new’ damage)
4. Blockage of pipes due to earthquake damage

Earthquake damage is not consistent with:
1. Wear and tear damage
2. Gradual deterioration of pipes and joins
3. Settlement/subsidence damage (unless clearly caused by EQ related land movements)
4. Historical tree root damage.

How are laterals inspected for earthquake damage?

A camera is fed into the pipes and a video recording is made, which EQC uses to assess damage.

My house was repaired by Fletcher EQR. Why weren’t my drains inspected and repaired at the same time?

EQC made a conscious decision to focus on house repairs to ensure people could live in their repaired homes as soon as possible. Further, experts have advised that expected failure times for laterals in Canterbury could be five to seven years after an earthquake event happening. Therefore, symptoms of damage have not always have been immediately apparent.

Why wouldn’t lateral damage on my property have been detected during the initial scoping of earthquake damage by EQC?

Experts have advised that expected failure times for laterals in Canterbury could be five to seven years after an earthquake event happening. Therefore, symptoms of damage have not always have been immediately apparent.

Settlement of your drainage damage

In what circumstances would EQC not accept a claim?

1. The property was not at least 50% residential
2. The property did not have the appropriate insurance
3. The damage was not earthquake-related
4. The lateral damage is greater than 60 metres in a horizontal line, from the dwelling

I have had this work done already by a private contractor and paid for it myself, can I be reimbursed?

EQC may reimburse the customer (to the extent it is liable under the Earthquake Commission Act 1993) providing you they can satisfy EQC that the damage was earthquake-related.

Why are you cash settling and what if a customer doesn’t want cash settlement?

Our analysis tells us that allowing homeowners to deal directly with contractors will be the most effective way to get repairs completed. Further, the Earthquake Commission Act 1993 allows EQC to choose to settle building claims and land claims by cash payments.

If further earthquake damage is discovered during the repair process, customers can notify EQC. If EQC determines the damage was caused by earthquake or needs to be reinstated as part of the earthquake repair, it may make an additional payment to cover the additional costs (to the extent it is liable under the Earthquake Commission Act 1993).

If customers can demonstrate that they have had a prior commitment to a managed drainage repair from EQC or EQR, then EQC will honour this

What happens if, after receiving my cash settlement and starting the repairs, more damage is discovered?

You can have confidence that if further damage is discovered during the repair process you can contact EQC by calling 0800 DAMAGE (0800 326 243) between 8:00am and 4:30pm, Monday to Friday, or emailing info@eqc.govt.nz. If we agree the damage is earthquake-related, an additional payment may be available to cover additional costs in accordance with the Earthquake Commission Act 1993.

A Repair Strategy Alterations form would have to be completed by your registered drainlayer and returned to the EQC Drainage Team. The form is available at www.eqc.govt.nz/canterbury/drainage-claims.

If I have received a settlement payment for land damage, will EQC make a further payment for drains damaged as a result of the earthquakes?

Yes, as damaged laterals are part of EQC’s cover for dwelling damage. Any land damage cover is dealt with separately.

What if repairing my laterals pushes my EQC claim over cap?

EQC will work with you and your insurer to find the best solution

If my property is over cap and I have already accepted a full and final cash settlement from my private insurer, am I expected to cover the costs of repairing any drain damage that is found subsequent to accepting the offer?

Because the property is over cap, the customer will need to talk to the insurer.

Changes in ownership of your property

If I wasn’t the owner of the property at the time of the earthquakes, am I entitled to make a claim for drainage earthquake damage?

Only if you have a Deed of Assignment from the previous owner of the property.

What is a Deed of Assignment?

The process of transferring the benefit of an EQC claim is called ‘assignment’. The documentation that is most commonly used for this is a Deed of Assignment – but any legal document can be used as long as it is clear about what is being assigned.

If I bought my property “as is, where is” post-earthquake, am I obliged to have any lateral damage repaired?

The Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) has advised that failing to repair damaged laterals could affect future insurance cover for a property.

Drainage repairs

Who can repair my damaged laterals?

EQC cannot recommend a drainlayer to do your repairs, but all drainage repairs must be carried out by a  licensed and/or certifying drainlayer.

Am I required to use a drainlayer or could I do the work myself?

All drainage repairs should be carried out by a licensed drainlayer.

If an area on my property needs to be dug up for repairs to earthquake-damaged laterals to proceed, who pays for reinstatement?

EQC may pay for this cost (to the extent it is liable under the Earthquake Commission Act 1993)

What if my earthquake-damaged laterals are repaired, and then are damaged again in another earthquake event?

EQC would cover them again (to the extent it is liable under the Earthquake Commission Act 1993). But you would need to lodge a claim for new damage.

Do local authorities make it compulsory to repair lateral damage?

If damage to private drains in a gravity wastewater system is not fixed, increased infiltration and debris can reduce the amount of wastewater the drain can handle, damage pump stations and equipment at the treatment plant, and have high energy and maintenance costs. Please consult your local authority for further information.

Could I be denied connection to the public sewerage and wastewater systems if I do not have my damaged laterals repaired?

You need to contact your local authority to get their advice on this.

What human health risks might be associated with lateral damage?

If a damaged lateral is not repaired, the land on your property could become contaminated over time. This is why urgent drainage repairs (where the symptoms of damage are obvious and considered a potential health risk) have been completed since 2010

Is there a time limit to repair damaged drains?

EQC recommends drains are repaired as soon as possible, to ensure your property’s Land Information Memorandum (LIM) can be updated and accurately reflect the condition of the drainage system on your property.

My laterals seem to be fine. So what if they don’t get repaired?

If damage to a private lateral is not fixed, increased debris etc can reduce the capacity of the wastewater system (i.e. the amount of wastewater the pipe can handle), damage pump stations and equipment at the treatment plant, and have high energy and maintenance costs.

Shared Drains

My drain is shared with my neighbour/s. How did EQC determine the amount to repair my portion of the shared drain?

Calculations are based on an overall cost to repair the entire shared drain. The overall cost is then allocated to each property based on the one, or more, section(s) of the shared drain each property uses.

Because my drain is shared with other properties, will my repair have to be done at the same time as my neighbour/s?

This will be up to you and your neighbour(s). However, you and your neighbour(s) may wish to use one contractor to ensure the repairs on the whole drain for all properties are completed at the same time.

What if my neighbour’s property is overcap ($100k + GST)  and their drainage claim is with their insurance company? How might that affect me?

In this situation, providing your neighbour was insured, their contribution for repairing the shared drain may come from their private insurer. You would need to discuss this with your neighbour.

In this situation, would my neighbour’s private insurer settlement amount be the same as EQC’s settlement?

That would be up to the private insurer to determine.

Would it be possible for my neighbour to use a different contractor to repair their section of the shared drain?

Yes. But using one contractor should mean repairs on all properties are completed at the same time. You may wish to consider discussing this with your neighbour.

What if my neighbour was not insured?

They would need to fund any contribution they have to make towards the cost  of repairing the shared drain themselves.

What if my uninsured neighbour refused to repair their section of the shared drain?

This would be a matter for you and your neighbour to resolve.

Could my neighbor/s and I be denied connection to the public sewerage and wastewater systems if we did not have our damaged drains repaired?

You would need to contact your local authority to get their advice on this.

Who can I contact if I have any further questions?                

Call us on 0800 DAMAGE (0800 326 243) between 7am and 9pm Monday to Friday and 6pm on Saturday or email us at info@eqc.govt.nz

Miscellaneous

Where does the homeowner’s sewer lateral drain end and where does the Council’s responsibility start?

Residents are responsible for the lateral drains on the property up to the property boundary, and the Council is responsible for the lateral from the property boundary to the sewer main on the public road.

Could my damaged laterals be causing problems for my neighbours?

If you have a shared lateral, any damage could affect the functionality of your neighbour’s system. If left unrepaired, over time, your neighbour’s property could become contaminated. The same applies, of course, if your neighbour’s laterals are damaged.

If my drains are damaged, why would I not have been aware of it?

Experts have advised that expected failure times for laterals in Canterbury could be five to seven years after an earthquake event happening. Therefore, symptoms of damage have not always been immediately apparent.

Can a lateral be damaged without any symptoms showing?

Yes. However, over time, the symptoms will become apparent.

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