Sewer Back-Up Policy


To establish City of Clarksville, Department of Gas and Water policy and procedures pertaining to payment of claims for sewer backups.


As used herein, “sewer backup” means any backup of sewage from the City owned and maintained sewer system. “Sewer backup” does not include storm water drainage system backups.


Maintenance of sewer service lines from the City owned sewer system to a property owner’s structure is the responsibility of the property owner. The Department maintains the following places located on City right-of-ways, easements, and City owned property:

  • Force Mains
  • Manholes
  • Pump Stations
  • Sewer Lines
  • Sewer Mains

Preventive Maintenance Program

The Department expends significant resources, through an extensive preventive maintenance program, to keep the sewer system in operable condition and in a good state of repair. Occasionally, however, forces of nature or conditions develop within the sewer system that may cause sewage to backup into a residence or business which are beyond the Department’s control, and / or for which the City bears no legal responsibility or liability. The Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act (Tenn. Code Ann. §29-20-101 et seq.) establishes the parameters for City legal responsibility/liability in such situations and provides in pertinent part as follows:

  • 29-20-204. Removal of immunity for injury from dangerous structures - Exception - Notice required.
    • Immunity from suit of a governmental entity is removed for any injury caused by the dangerous or defective condition of any public structure or other public improvement owned and controlled by such governmental entity.
    • Immunity is not removed for latent defective conditions, nor shall this section apply unless constructive and / or actual notice to the governmental entity of such condition be alleged and proved
  • 29-20-205. Removal of immunity for injury caused by negligent act or omission of employees - Exceptions - Immunity for year 2000 computer calculation errors. Immunity from suit of all governmental entities is removed for injury approximately caused by a negligent act or omission of any employee within the scope of his employment except if the injury arises out of:
    • The exercise or performance or the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function, whether or not the discretion is abused
    • The issuance, denial, suspension or revocation of, or by the failure or refusal to issue, deny, suspend or revoke, any permit, license, certificate, approval, order or similar authorization
    • A failure to make an inspection, or by reason of making an inadequate or negligent inspection of any property


In accordance with state law, the City / Department shall not be responsible for, shall not assume any liability for, and shall not pay any sewer service customer’s claim for any damages or costs, direct or indirect, of whatever kind or nature whatsoever, associated in any manner with any sewage backup or blockage onto private property, unless such damages are caused by: (a) a dangerous or defective condition of the City sewer system located on land owned or controlled by the City, to include City right-of-ways and easements, and which such dangerous or defective condition the City / Department had actual or constructive notice of prior to the occurrence of the sewer backup damage(s); or (b) the negligence of any City employee(s) acting within the scope of his employment, except as otherwise provided by law. It shall be the responsibility of the sewer service customer making the claim to submit sufficient and satisfactory evidence as determined by the Risk Manager or City Attorney to substantiate the claim.


Department customers seeking to make a claim for sewer backup damages will be advised to submit a written claim to the City Risk Manager using claim forms as adopted by the Risk Manager. All claims must be filed within thirty (30) days of the incident / occurrence giving rise to the claim. The Risk Manager shall investigate the claim and may review same with the Department General Manager or his designee, and such others as the Risk Manager may determine appropriate, and may consult with the City Attorney, and shall thereafter deny the claim, or approve payment of the claim in whole or in part, as is appropriate under the law and facts of each case and as consistent with the policy herein, but any payment made shall not exceed the amount permitted by law. The Risk Manager authority to approve claim amounts shall be the same as that provided in the City Internal Service Fund Policy, and the City Attorney shall have authority to approve the payment of any claim exceeding the authority of the City Risk Manager.