Can Springfield Homes Be Occupied with No Drinkable Running Water?

At the Springfield City Council meeting Monday night, a comment was made by Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson that residents in Springfield could live in a single-family home without “potable, running water.”

So OI investigated.  Is it true you can have a family living in a single-family dwelling in Springfield without drinkable running water?

The short answer is yes…but as with many things, there’s more to the story.

Harlan Hill, Director of Building Services

We contacted Harlan Hill, Springfield’s Director of Building Services about the statement.  Hill told OI that it is possible for a family to end up in that situation but that Springfield’s city codes do not allow for someone to plan to be in that situation.

The City of Springfield uses the 2012 International Building Code for structures in the city limits.  This means that a builder has to make sure all those codes are met when performing new construction and existing homes have to meet those guidelines or receive a violation from the city if that building is inspected.

Under the 2012 IBC, it is a requirement for homes to have access to clean, running drinking water.  When applied to Springfield it means either a home must hook up to the city’s water system or in some rare cases (mostly older structures) they have to be connected to a well that provides potable water.

Failure to have that is a violation of Springfield city code.  So, under code, it’s not legal for a single family home to not have potable, running water as stated by Councilwoman Ferguson.

However, just because that is a violation of city code, it doesn’t mean that someone might not be able to live in the structure.

Mr. Hill told the OI that when they go to inspect a property to see if it’s habitable for residents, they have to consider many factors.  One violation in and of itself may not be enough for the city to say that it’s not fit for occupation.

The running water issue is one of those items.  Hill said that it is possible that violation of city code could be found in a home, but with the rest of the inspection showing no other violations, that lone violation wouldn’t be enough to require anyone living at the home to vacate.

So while Councilwoman Ferguson’s statement is true, it’s not the desired result that leadership and staff of Building Development Services want to see in the city.