Tryon sewage woes continue

Published 8:09 pm Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Resident asks town who is liable when sewage backs up
The Town of Tryon continues to have issues with sewage spills along East Howard Street.
Eunice Whitmire spoke to Tryon Town Council on June 19 about her sewage problem. Whitmire said she frequently has sewage spill into her yard and house during heavy rains. She said the town recently put a cap on the manhole so sewage can’t come up, and she asked the town who is going to do the clean-up when the sewage comes in her house because it no longer can spill out from the manhole.
“My question for the day is who is going to be liable?” Whitmire asked council. “They put a cap on (the manhole) so sewer can’t come up. Who’s liable when that thing backs up? Where’s the water going?”
Council discussed the town’s ongoing problem with sewage backing up into Whitmire’s yard and home and said the town is liable for the problem and the clean up.
“We are (liable) and that’s the bottom line,” said councilman Roy Miller. “Those things need to be done. If the town can’t do it then we need to get a contractor to do it. We shouldn’t have town sewage [spill] and just leave it. We should not have this lady going out in her yard and smelling sewer and it’s not her fault.”
Whitmire approached council last month after heavy rains and council decided that the town would clean up Whitmire’s yard and house whenever spills occurred. The town has applied for a grant to replace the sewer line along East Howard Street, which has been estimated at more than $600,000.
Council members expressed concern last week that Whitmire’s yard had not yet been cleaned.
Tryon Public Works Director Joel Burrell said engineer John Hollifield visited the area to see what could be done to help the situation. Burrell said they looked to see if a ditch could be dug to the creek, but the town was advised by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to put a three-foot riser on the lid of the manhole and cap it.
“(Whitmire) should not have overflow on that manhole but there is potential it will go in her house,” Burrell said.
Last month the town said it would clean up any spills occurring at Whitmire’s home and said if multiple backflow units need to be installed the town would do so in an attempt to stop backflow into her home. Whitmire has detailed graphic occurrences over the past couple of years of sewage backing up into her bathtub and toilet paper and sewage running in her front yard following heavy rains.
“If they put the backflow in, it might work, it might not,” Whitmire said. “It’s going to come (in the house).”
Council members were again sympathetic to Whitmire, saying they hate she has to live in that house.
“It sounds like our people need to do what it takes,” said Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples. “I’m sorry you have to live there. We can fix your yard.”
Councilman Doug Arbogast agreed. He said the town needs to do the clean-up the next day no matter what it costs.
“If it was my house or your house we would want something done,” Miller said.
Miller also mentioned the town has an ordinance that fines people if raw sewage is spilling on the ground, so the town is not adhering to its own ordinance.
Tonya Glover, Whitmire’s daughter, said in the summer, they cannot have family over to her mom’s house because it smells like urine.
“We take our shoes off every time we go into her house,” Glover said. “All of East Howard Street smells like sewage.”

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