David and Susan Reid woke up Saturday morning to discover raw sewage flowing from a manhole in the back yard of their Burnett Circle home in Greenbrier.
"We didn’t know what to do," Susan Reid said. "We had been calling all morning and had left three voicemail messages on the water department’s emergency line, and we’d gotten no response."
The Reids said they dug a trench with a shovel to divert the route of the raw sewage flow, while making numerous calls to the city hall, the fire department and the city police, who finally dispatched an officer to the scene at around 10:50 a.m.
"I’m five-foot nothing," Susan Reid said, "but I was up to just below the knee in (wastewater)."
As a constant flow of sewage continued to spill from the manhole, the Reids grabbed their digital camera to record the damage.
Contact was finally made with Greenbrier Wastewater Superintendent Raymond Akin, who, according to the Reids, said nothing could be done until Monday.
"When we talked to him and told him that we’d contacted (the Log Cabin Democrat), he told us that he guessed he could get a tractor out here to work on it today," Susan Reid said.
An elderly neighbor looked on as flies swarmed the stagnant water around the manhole cover.
The Reids said "at least three or four" similar incidents have occurred at the same site, but that a permanent fix to the problem has yet to be made.
The couple alleged a neighbor had been hospitalized with a staph infection following a previous septic overflow; another neighbor was told the problem was their own, and were forced to pay out-of-pocket
expenses when their septic system backed up.
Akin worked nearby on an excavator, shoveling the contaminated dirt into large piles for disposal.
According to Akin, the overflow was the result of too much grease in the septic lines.
"We use a chemical degreaser in the lines," Akin said. "We try to educate people on the proper ways to dispose of it. It’s unfortunate when things like this happen."
The Reids disagreed and said they believe the problem lies with too many homes sharing the same septic lines.
"There are probably 50 to 60 homes in the new subdivision back there running off of this line, in addition to all of the homes around here," David Reid said. "And all of those lines run downhill to this point. I’m sure grease is a factor, but I think it’s also a volume issue."
Akin said waste management will dispose of the contaminated ground.
The remaining ground, he said, will be disinfected with chemicals and the topsoil will be replaced.
"It seemed like somewhat of an emergency to me," David Reid said. "Raw sewage is dangerous. There are a lot of children in this neighborhood, and we just want it safe for everyone."
Akin said he intends to meet with the city engineer to "see what can be done."
(Staff writer Megan Reynolds can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (501) 505-1277. To comment on this story and others, visit www.thecabin.net)