City working on south side sewer issues

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, July 18, 2009

Imagine coming home to find your house flooded with a three to six inches of water. Imagine looking closer and seeing that it was not just water but an overflow of the entire sewer system that is causing the problem.

This image is enough for anyone to wrinkle their noses in disgust. But for Adam Brown and some other Ironton citizens living on the south side of town, this image is all too real.

“(Water) came up through our shower and our toilet and we had human waste, grass and toilet paper floating around the house,” Brown said. “It was not a pleasant experience to come home to.”

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Brown, who worked for the city for 11 years, said the entire neighborhood was flooded twice in a 29-day period. He also said that this was the first time this had happened to the neighborhood in as long as he and his neighbor, a 41-year resident, could remember.

“It was no different in our basement this time than it was if you went down to the wastewater plant,” he said. “That’s how nasty it was.”

Brown has spent around $10,000 on repairs for the damage to his house. This does not take into account his basement, which he says is completely destroyed.

“You can’t just leave waste in your house,” he said. Brown also said that he is afraid to leave the house for long periods of time because if the overflow repeated itself again, letting it sit would have catastrophic effects on the house.

“Somebody needs to help us out here. We can’t live like this.”

Mayor Rich Blankenship blames a large part of the problem on the recent rains.

“Two rains have given an unusual amount of rainfall in a small amount of time,” said Blankenship. “We don’t know at this point what is wrong.”

He does, however, suspect that there are combined sewer systems blocked up somewhere in the city.

President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan, he said, has given Ironton $5 million to realign the sewer systems, a project anticipated to start in October. In the meantime, the city is going to look for any blockages in the system.

“Starting next week, we will be videoing to see if there are any collapses or obstacles within the pipes,” Blankenship said.

The process will begin Monday.

He also said that Ironton citizens need to be a part of the solution by properly disposing of grass trimmings, soda cans and trash — all things that can easily block a sewer pipe.

“We’re all a part of this community and we all have to do our part to keep it clean,” he said.

Blankenship is hoping to find the problem quickly and thus prevent any further damage to south side houses.

“My heart goes out to them,” he said. “I want to assure them that I’m doing everything I can to find and fix the problem.”