Pricey water line repairs spark ownership dispute

Call 12 For Action

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Leon Amarant is locked in a battle with the Newport Water Division.

“The dispute is who owns that line in the street,” he told Call 12 for Action.

Months ago, two water leaks were discovered near Amarant’s rental property on Crescent Avenue in Middletown. He said one leak was in front of his neighbor’s house and another was across the street, under the parking lot of his father’s restaurant on Aquidneck Avenue.

Amarant claims Newport has maintained the water line for years, but the city says it’s a private line and the homeowners are responsible for thousands of dollars worth of repairs. Notations on recent records indicate the water line required “private shared service repairs.”

“At that point, I’m thinking, ‘what don’t I own?’ Do I own all of Aquidneck Avenue?” Amarant asked. “Is every leak going to be mine from here on out?”

“Common sense would say everything after that curb stop going into the public street is not owned by any private citizen,” he argued.

The city of Newport, which supplies water to Middletown, sent several letters threatening to shut off service to three houses on Crescent Avenue. Amarant said the homeowners couldn’t risk it, so they paid their own contractor thousands to fix the leaks.

“We’ve looked at our deeds, we’ve looked at our titles, everything,” he said. “There’s nothing about a shared ownership, and you’d think there would be if we had a liability sitting in the middle of the street.”

Amarant filed insurance claims with Newport and Middletown to be reimbursed but his concerns don’t stop with the recent repairs.

“They have told us that the water line is deficient. It’s inadequate and needs to be replaced,” he said. “The cost of that work, we have it estimated starting at $60,000. We obviously don’t want to each spend $20,000 on this.”

Newport Solicitor Girard Galvin declined to comment on the dispute, citing Amarant’s pending insurance claim.

Susan Campbell ( is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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