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Recurring Problem Pushes Sewage into Stonegate Homes Again

Sewer system issues once again brought residents the familiar sight of sewage flowing into pipes within their homes on Monday.

Monday's rainfall led to a nightmare once again on Stonegate Road, where at least three households found themselves dealing with sewage backups.

Martin Senich of 352 Stonegate Road found raw sewage seeping out of his shower drain Monday morning, forcing his wife to shower at her local gym before teaching that morning.

His neighbor Robert Timpe, of 320 Stonegate Road, found sewage oozing in his utility sink, as well, and Timpe said another neighbor has sewage backing up into his shower pipes.

Families along Stonegate Road have been dealing with sewage backup issues since 2007 and although the problem was supposed to have been fixed, they found themselves in the same situation again in 2010.

Town officials have said they believe the problem is caused by illegal sump pumps, hence the creation of a new sump pump ordinance passed during last Monday's Town Council meeting, but residents say the backups are caused by groundwater seeping into the sewers.

"We've been at this for four years now, and the problem is the sewers run too high and the town doesn't want to spend the money to fix it," Timpe said. "We've said it over and over again, this is not a Stonegate Road issue, this is a town issue, and they're not doing anything about it, simply because it's too costly."

Senich said he's dealt with two different town council administrations and so far nothing has changed. He thinks the only way to solve the problem is to dig up the sewer pipes and fix them, which would costly, but necessary.

"We've been getting the same run around for years, saying they'll take care of it, but here I am sitting here again with sewage coming down the shower, and I'm so sick and tired of dealing with this problem," Sencich said. "We're getting screwed, I'm sorry but there's no other way to say it."

Water Pollution Control Superintendent John DeGioia said he'd received two calls from Stonegate residents Monday morning. He said he suspected backup issues would arise because of the rainfall and had arranged for a cleanup company to be stationed in the neighborhood that morning.

"I actually expected a lot more of a problem, but so far two people have called with a very small amount in their basement," De Gioia said. "We are in the process of hiring engineers to determine what's causing the backups, but we suspect very strongly that this is a sump pump issue."

After the 2007 backup, the town paid about $115,000 to the affected homeowners to partially reimburse them for the damage.

Senich and others plan to bring their grievances to the Sewer Committee meeting on March 9.

John Leary March 08, 2011 at 12:13 PM
In my opinion the logical path to a solution includes 1) Passing the sump pump ordinance (DONE), 2) Inspecting the homes connected to the problem sewer line to ensure no illegal connections of sump pumps to sanitary sewers exist, 3) proceed with the costly project of upgrading the sewer lines. Yesterday I replaced a defective sump pump with a new one that discharges at a rate of 52 gallons of water per minute. After installing it, the pump ran continuous for over 1 hour and then I went to work leaving it running. At that rate I estimate that I pumped between 4 and 5 thousand gallons of water. If only 5 people have an illegal connection to the sanitary sewer it can force 25 thousand gallons of water into the sewer. This not only causes back-ups but also requires that water to be treated as sewage which adds additional costs and demands on the treatment plant. and The inspections are a very inexpensive, honest process to follow before costly enhancements are pursued. I applaud the sewer committee, Sewer Department, and the Town Council for following a logical cost effective approach.
Arthur Cyr March 08, 2011 at 01:02 PM
Inspections?? That was promised in 2007 and again last year. Its not that 100 new people have hooked a basement sump pump to their pipes, its either too many homes hooked into an inadequate system or bad pipes. People need to look downstream from Stonegate and see if the pipes are big enough (8"? 10"? or 12"? pipes vs 20" wide pipes) to taking in this amount of "flow" and then they need to insure that there are no broken pipes or obstructions that slow down the flow to the plant. BUT THE TIME FOR TALK IS OVER. FIX IT NOW!
george roberge March 08, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Come look at Fox Run Dr.. Again the water is coming out of the middle of the road and out of my sidewalk. This has been going on for years and has been reported many times along with pictures. Nothing has ever been done to fix the problem. We are within 1/10th of a mile from Marty's home. George Roberge 11 Fox Run Dr.
WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot March 08, 2011 at 02:51 PM
There is new thing on the market its called a Back Flow Preventer. Maybe someone should look into this.
John Leary March 08, 2011 at 04:58 PM
I agree we need to fix it now but ---There is a difference between ground water and sewage. The Backflow preventer is a check valve or a “one way valve” if installed on a main sewer line it will close if water is flowing the wrong way. It does not solve the problem but can protect a homeowner from a back flow of sewage. It treats a symptom not the real root cause problem. A well designed sewer system should have adequate sized pipes installed in a manner that is properly pitched downhill and sealed to prevent infiltration of ground water. If the back-ups only occur during periods of intense groundwater one can conclude that groundwater is getting into the sanitary sewer. There are 2 ways ground water can get into the sanitary sewer; 1) Be intentionally pumped in by homeowners , 2) leak into cracks, separations and defects in the piping system. So I feel sump pump inspections need to occur very quickly. If nothing is found we need to inspect for cracks and design. A camera inspection was performed last year to look for blockage and damage to the pipes. The video is/was available in the town web site. Sanitary sewers and storm drains are two separate things with two separate purposes. I also agree we need swift and complete action now. Inspect, review the design and fix the complete problem for good (do it all fast).
Tony Casale March 17, 2011 at 06:15 PM
how far do you go with backflows, if everyone on the street installs them the sewage will just continue up stream till it finds a new home or building, or come right up out of the manhole, last storm it was only 2 feet from the cover, that is a supercharged system, it will find a way out.
Craig Pernerewski March 21, 2011 at 10:09 PM
What constitues "a small amount of sewage"? I bet Mr. Degioia would not find it to be all that small if it started coming out in his shower when he was in it! Sounds like the inspections will not start for another year while we are "educated" on the process. First, how many homes are there between the houses on Stonegate and the sewage plant? If none, you maybe on to something about the sump pumps. Then you can get WARRANTS to search. If there are houses down stream from the Stonegate homes, how come they are not having sewage backing up? Then it sounds like some leaking pipes. Second, did anyone even consider the 4th amendment?
Arthur Cyr March 22, 2011 at 02:12 AM
Mr. Leary said, "If nothing is found we need to inspect for cracks and design." AS IN DESIGN FLAWS IN THE STONEGATE AREA!! People need to start asking the right questions, like "There are hundreds of homes all over town that have sump pumps connected to the sewer system. WHY is it only the Stonegate area?? What happens when you install that new plastic pipe line in a gravel trench running past the pond from Berlin Street going south? Four feet lower than the pond in an area with a high water table that leads to a connection of old leaky pipes below Stonegate? BUT the important question still remains - WHY does this happen ONLY in the Stonegate area???

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