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Camera comes loose during sewer inspection. City sues to recover the $377,000 it spent to avoid a big mess

You could say it was $377,000 down the drain.

That’s how much Bonney Lake spent to retrieve a motorized camera workers with Bravo Environmental NW dropped into the city sewer system.

Last month, the city sued Bravo for the money it paid another company to retrieve the camera and avoid a major mess.

“The city is pursuing recovery so that the city’s sewer customers do not have to foot the bill for a contractor’s negligence,” said Leslie Harris, management analyst and executive assistant for Bonney Lake.

The camera was used after the city hired Bravo to do a video inspection of a sewer main segment that carries 90 percent of the city’s waste water to a treatment plant in Sumner.

“During the inspection,” Harris said, “Bravo failed to properly secure the camera.”

She said the Tukwila-based company has denied responsibility for the incident.

Attorneys representing the company declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Harris said the problems started when the camera broke free during the inspection, washed downstream and became stuck in a sewer valve, obstructing the sewage flow to the treatment plant.

The lawsuit contends the Bravo workers had realized the camera cable wasn’t properly secured and tried without success to keep it in place using some flat nylon called mule tape.

“The camera and mule tape created a blockage that, along with sewer debris that steadily collected behind it, almost completely blocked sewer flows,” Harris said.

After the camera was washed away, he said, the Bravo workers tried but failed to retrieve it.

“To avoid further damage to the system and a catastrophic sewer overflow, the city hired an emergency contractor, Tucci & Sons, to construct a temporary sewer bypass, disassemble the valve and retrieve the camera,” Harris said.

Tucci & Sons’ work kept the ramifications of the sewer blockage from becoming more than just monetary.

“Had this blockage been allowed to remain,” she said, “waste water would have backed up and overflowed, causing environmental damage, including contamination of a nearby watershed and creek that discharges to the Puyallup River.”

Bonney Lake is alleging Bravo acted negligently during the inspection and breached its contract with the city to “exercise reasonable care and judgment” in doing the job.

Trial is scheduled for Sept. 10, 2019.

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