BELTON, Mo. -- Most homeowners spend a lot of time watering in the summer heat just to keep their lawns alive, but Lisa Richter longs for a dry backyard -- just once.
“I don't even like to bring my grandkids back here anymore,” said Richter, complaining about the bugs and mosquitoes that populate the backyard of the Belton home she has owned for more than 20 years.
Richter blamed the infestation on the culvert that runs behind her home. It’s filled with tree limbs and roots and so much other vegetation that it has made it difficult for the water to keep flowing.
Every year the culvert's banks overflow just a little bit more, drenching her backyard and inching closer and closer to her home.
“I don't want my house damaged,” Richter said. “I'm a single mom with five kids. I can't afford it.”
She said that for the last four years she has complained to the city of Belton, asking for help.
“I've emailed,” she said. “I called. I went in person. I've done everything I know how to do."
When she felt ignored by the city, she decided to call FOX4 Problem Solvers. In most neighborhoods, culverts are maintained either by the city or the county. They usually are not the responsibility of homeowners.
But in this subdivision of Berkshire Estates the plat, filed with the city, specifically assigns maintenance of the “drainage easements” to the property owners, Belton Public Works Director Celia Duran said.
Duran added that culverts in newer subdivisions are maintained the city, but Berkshire Estates was developed prior to that policy.
Anyone looking at the Berkshire Estate’s culvert can tell it has been years since any property owner maintained it. There are now so many trees and overgrowth in and around the culvert, it’s difficult to even see the culvert.
Clearing the mess could easily cost thousands of dollars.
After FOX4 Problem Solvers started asking questions, Duran said city officials were meeting this week to discuss the issue. She said the city also plans to start monitoring water flow in the culvert during heavy rains to determine how much water is overflowing the banks and whether it’s as much of a threat to homeowners as Richter fears.