In Tryon, BS flows better than sewage

Published 10:00 pm Monday, January 16, 2017

It all started eight years ago, when I noticed a small amount of water rising up through the cracks in my driveway. After a few days, the odor of raw sewage began to rise up from the flow. The flow increased until it split into two streams, running down the street in front of my entrance walkway, and across the street into my neighbors’ yards. One could not enter my house without having to jump over the putrid stream.

Since I lived here only on weekends, I asked a friend to make contact with the department of water and sewer. They told my friend that the sewage was my problem because the leak was on my property. That was the first deception. After doing a little investigating, I discovered my waste water line was located many feet away.

I informed the sewer department and they said they would investigate. After a couple of weeks they said the leak was result of a blockage in one of their sewer lines and they tore up my driveway to clean it out. Note, I say nothing about repairing my driveway. Knowing I would replace the driveway paving and being a concerned and cooperative citizen, I told them not to bother with the pavement repair. That was one of many of my mistakes.

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A few months later the leak reappeared and I began to discuss doing a permanent repair to prevent another leak. That initiated a number of deflections and excuses. These ranged from “a repair was not possible” to “we will put the repair in the 2016 budget.”

The town’s answer to a repair was to install a “clean out” in my driveway. It was a temporary measure to give maintenance workers a direct access to the troublesome sewer line. The “clean out” rises prominently above my driveway, and is something that must be avoided when parking. Being temporary it prevents me from repairing or paving my drive until the sewer line is repaired. Nothing has changed in the seven plus years since the “clean out” was installed.

At least once a year the leak reappears. When the department of water and sewer finally cleans out the blockage, they leave significant quantities of toilet paper, feces, and women’s hygiene products in my driveway. 

On numerous occasions, I have written or spoken to people in Tryon’s government and management.  That includes two mayors, the former town manager, and managers of water and sewage.  I discovered that BS flows as freely as the sewage and is as pungent.  One mayor was more concerned about how I communicated my frustration than with addressing this public health problem. I often wondered if he could have jumped far enough to clear this stream of putrid water if it was flowing in front of his house.

There is another problem associated with this leak. The blockage causes an accumulation of solids.  These solids are rapidly building in the sewer pipe. Soon, the solids will plug the sewer line enough to cause sewage to back up into the basements and drains of those whom the line serves. I guess the town of Tryon would rather pay for those related damages, than to clean out the line.

Now is the time for exposure. Had the town of Tryon made a permanent repair, or performed routine preventative cleanouts, this letter would not be necessary. This letter is written to remind those who have ignored this problem, they are contributing to the endangerment of public health.

~ Charles Whittaker, Tryon, N.C.