August 24, 2021
By Jessica Mathews / firstname.lastname@example.org
Some residents of the town of Howell say they are fed up with a “shitty situation” caused by storms leading to flooding and sanitary sewer overflows.
A group of residents who live in the Pulford and Hadden Street areas raised their concerns to Council at Monday night’s meeting and are still grappling with backyards inundated with both storm water and rainwater. sewer from storm overflows. City manager Erv Suida said the significant rain event a few weeks ago maximized the capacity of the stormwater system and sanitary sewer system, causing both to overflow. He says the residents live in a very low-lying area, so the yards have essentially become a lake with a mixture of stormwater and sanitary sewage.
A resident of Hadden Street presented photos of the damage and a Mason jar full of black water with debris that flooded his yard – saying he had lost an RV, a Harley Davidson, a shed and all of his tools. He commented that the first events happened around 2007 and over the years since then costing him thousands of dollars but it has to stop because he can’t afford what just happened.
Resident Jason Holley has raised concerns about what he sees as a lack of response and urgency from the city, as well as a lack of notification regarding sewer issues, saying that rare storms happen more often and there has to be a cleaning up more and more quickly. He told Council that he had spent a whole day washing his garden with electricity and that it was still disgusting. Holley said there was “still shit in her yard” and “poo dust” visible on plants and trees in the gardens of other properties – which they have been breathing in for weeks.
Another resident who moved into her house a year ago and has a 4-year-old daughter said raw sewage from the council had been left in her garden for days without any kind of cleaning or notifying the city and that children from all over their neighborhood were playing. inside. She was without power for five days but had to keep her windows closed due to the overwhelming odor – which she said smelled like a combination of “porta-pots and rotting corpses.”
City crews have gone to wash and rake the sites, but it was noted during the meeting that in some cases they cannot get the equipment in because the ground is still very saturated. The staff also contacted several specialist companies, who relayed that there was no process to really clean up the sites. Some options have been offered, but staff have warned that they could have negative repercussions and they don’t want to try to help but end up with unwanted side effects. The staff will continue to spray everything with more powerful equipment.
Suida told WHMI that there are teams trying to wash everything down, but apparently what they are doing is not enough and he understands it. He said they would go back there and try to do a better job and use more volume of water with different methods which will hopefully clean it up a bit better for them while looking at solutions. short and long term.
Suida said they will also be looking at other items to control potential sanitary sewer overflows and keep them from entering backyards. He said it’s unfortunate and they certainly feel for the residents and understand the issue – adding that it was a 100-year-old rainy event with off-card debits and there was an incredible amount of rainwater in a very short time.
Suida noted that part of the problem can be attributed to the fact that many sump pumps are connected directly to the sanitary sewer line inside homes, resulting in increased flow rates and the system failed. not adequate capacity. Suida said he’s pretty confident the long-term solution will be disconnecting the sump pump, but this should be done on a voluntary basis. He said some sump pumps in homes are connected to the sanitary sewer line, which is a big part of why rainfall events cause sewer back-ups. In these cases, a large influx of storm water enters the sanitary sewer, which the system cannot handle, causing these kinds of problems.
Suida said they will also be looking at other items to help control potential sanitary sewer overflows. It was during the meeting that this area was declared to be a low point but not the lowest point. although it will take a lot of engineering.
Mayor Nick Proctor said everyone has a right to be angry and the problem will not be resolved overnight, but stressed that they will do everything possible to properly clean up the mess and restore an environment healthy. Proctor said the cost will not be factored in and if there are budgetary ramifications they will take care of it, but that cannot continue and they will find a solution to try to help the residents.
Photos courtesy of Jason Moore and Jason Holley.