Duke Energy error blamed for Covington sinkhole

Could be big break for homeowner

COVINGTON, Ky. – How's that for a lucky break?

The Covington homeowner who thought he might have to pay a fortune to fix the hole in the street in front of his house may be off the hook.

WCPO was there Thursday when plumbers found the mistake that could save Eric Smith up to $10,000.

The City of Covington says a break in the sewer lateral in Smith's yard caused the sinkhole and repairs would cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.

"I've had plenty of sleepless nights worrying about it,"  Smith said. "I was worried when they dug the hole they might find something crazy down there."

The sinkhole was 3 feet deep.

"What caused the sinkhole was his sewer not having anywhere to go," Odie Eldridge of Jolly Plumbing said after digging into the problem. "So therefore it was going underneath the road and causing a void."

Eldridge and his crew opened the hole Thursday and found what caused the sewer line break.

A Duke Energy gas line.

"Gas line dug through the top of it," Eldridge said.

That's right. A big, sewer-lateral-eating Duke Energy gas line.

"We think that they took the top out of his sewer line, because that's exactly where it's laying - right on the crux of the sewer line  - and the top of it's gone," said Steve Edwards of Jolly.

And that was jolly good news for Smith.

"It's right there," Smith said, "so the assumption is probably something happened when they installed the gas line, and also considering there's nothing wrong with the line up to that point."

A Duke representative came out and said it was probably their responsibility.

That means they may pay for it.

 "Duke, if they say that it's their problem, they take care of it," Eldridge said. "They don't have no problems with that. They are always Johnny-on-the-spot and they take care of their problems."

"I feel much better," Smith said.

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