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Resident complains about Tryon sewage problem in yard

A Tryon resident is demanding that the town finally correct a sewer problem that has plagued her property for years.
Eunice Whitmire, who lives on East Howard Street, has been dealing with town sewage spilling in her yard for the past six to seven years.
The problem occurs in heavy rains and recent downpours have made the situation unbearable, she says. She says she cant rake her leaves for the stench and even when it doesnt rain the smell makes it impossible to sit on her porch or do anything outside.
“I pay my taxes,” Whitmire says. “Im doing what Im supposed to do. (The situation) blows me away.”
Tryon Town Council discussed the problem during its January meeting when councilman Austin Chapman asked public works if the problem has been alleviated.
Public works director Joel Burrell reported that the state department of environment and natural resources (DENR) has been involved and a town engineer has been researching the area to try to find the problem.
This week Tryon Town Manager Justin Hembree said engineer Jonathan Hollified should return this week a report that will hopefully identify the problem and depending on results, repairs could begin immediately.
“Sewage comes up out of the manhole and spills into the yard,” Whitmire says. “The other night it ran up to the porch. Its a mess.”
Whitmire, a 64-year old lifelong resident who now lives in the house her mother had built 41 years ago, says she remembers a time when the property was gorgeous with a beautifully planted yard and flowers and now its a mess.
Whitmires problem is not the only one now as she says two other manholes are also spilling sewage. Her problem appears to be the worst.
Recently the town reported a discharge of 200,000 gallons of untreated wastewater from a sewer collection line at 900 East Howard Street. The town also reported a discharge of 30,000 gallons from an area near 100 Jervey Road. Both discharges reached the surface waters of a tributary to Vaughn Creek.
Hembree says the problem is occurring due to rain water getting into a sewer line. Whitmires house is somewhat near the towns sewage plant and Hembree says officials are thinking at this point the problematic line may be below Whitmires house. The sewage line may either not have enough fall in the line or the line may be too small. Either way, Hembree is hoping to find the section with the problem and replace the section and at the same time upsize the line.
He says as soon as Hollifields survey report is returned and the problem is located, the town will move quickly to alleviate the problem.
But Whitmire says part of her problem with the situation is that it has been going on for so long. She said after multiple attempts to contact town hall about the problem several years ago, she and resident Beryl Dade contacted DENR themselves around 2004 and got the state involved. She said thats how the ball got rolling and she feels like this problem would not occur in any other part of town, especially for this long.
Whitmire also expresses concern over a new town policy that was just enacted last year stating that the town bears no expense for repairs related to backflow valves installed in Tryon homes.
Whitmire says the town installed a backflow valve in her home years ago without her consent and it has had problems in the past prior to the new policy. She says the town installed the backflow valve to stop sewage from backflowing into her home, where sewage used to overflow out of the toilet and tub. She says she hears girgling coming from the toilet at times now.
Last Sunday when the Tryon area recorded 3.6 inches of rain, Whitmire said sewage and wastewater was flowing out of the top of the manhole into her yard by the evening.
She said she remembers one day sewage pumping out from 7 a.m. until around 2 p.m. and other times it spills out for hours at a time. One of the worst thoughts to Whitmire is that it is not even her sewage. Being so close to the sewer plant, the sewage being spilled is sewage from different parts of town.
“Its pumping out like a river,” Whitmire said. “You can see the tissue.”