Anthony GonzalezStaff Writer
February 14, 2013
A sewer drainage pipe clogged by roots from trees and grease from frying pans caused a sewer spill to back up into the home of a Jonesville resident, according to an official at the Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority (YVSA).
The homeowner was evacuated.
According to neighbors, the stench permeated beyond the walls of the residence located on S. Jonesville Boulevard.
The YVSA official said a claim has been turned over to its insurance provider, the League of Municipalities.
The YVSA crew responded Jan. 28 to an off-hours emergency call from the Town of Jonesville about a back up on S. Jonesville Boulevard.
The YCSA official confirmed they were not able to clear the line in time before the home suffered significant damage.
“We had a clog on the gravity force main and got to the clog as quickly as possible, but the waste backed up into the house,” said Nicole Johnston, executive director for the YVSA. “The damage was done, and we had to turn this incident over to our insurance company.
“Homeowners along S. Jonesville Blvd should know that we ran the jetty along the entire line, checked the pipes with our camera, and we believe the matter is contained and isolated,” said Johnston.
“The homeowner had been immediately relocated into a nearby hotel of his choice,” she said. “He’s doing fine and we wish for him to get back into his home, but only when its ready.
“As of yesterday the bacteria testing was completed,” said Johnston. “We had it tested and it should be cleared this week for the contractor to go back in and fix what we had to initially tear up. I do not have an exact timetable.”
The YVSA could not provide an estimate on damages stating that the incident is now in the hands of its insurance adjuster.
The League of Municipalities, which provides insurance to the authority, would not disclose specifics on the costs associated with the damage. When asked if taxpayers would ultimately pay the price by paying for higher insurance premiums from incidents such as the Jonesville claim, the spokesperson opted not to comment either.
According to the YVSA, more than 10 percent of sewer lines are cleaned annually, per regulation. By continually maintaining and repairing the public sewer system to keep it in good working condition, the authority says it reduces the potential for backups.
“While sewer backups may occur for a number of reasons, they are usually caused by internal plumbing problems in the home, and in rare cases, the public sewer line,” said Johnston.
“We have 85 miles of sewer. That’s over 8.5 miles of preventative cleaning every year,” she said, “But an incident like the Jonesville Boulevard clog took a total of three days to thoroughly flush out, and that’s where you send manpower.
“We had roots and grease that are to blame for this incident,” Johnston continued. “The thing about grease is that it’s really warm and when poured into a drain it cools it solidifies in the lines. The more you pour the more potential you will clog. Throw in quite a few tree roots, and the damage was done.
“We had a double edge sword against us,” she said.
According to the YVSA, if a backup occurs it is never pleasant and can be very frustrating and stressful. A quick, proper response will go a long way toward limiting the possibility of long-term health effects and property damage. Sewer backups vary from clean water to raw sewage. Backups may result from a variety of conditions, most commonly, heavy rain events. When excess water overloads the sewer because of blockages caused by grease, debris or tree roots, or collapses, a sewer backup may occur. Sometimes the private home’s sewer system is in such poor condition that a backup will occur when a toilet is flushed, or a load of laundry is washed.
“I’ve taken steps to protect my property,” said Christine Wilkins, a neighbor on S. Jonesville Boulevard. “We’ve had some problems along this road. I don’t have any complaint against the YVSA. I saw them working very hard. They were out here for days.”
Another neighbor, Lynne Sanders said, “Most homeowners don’t know what they need to protect themselves. We rent. It’s not my problem technically because it falls on the landlord, but I better check and make sure we have renter insurance that would cover something like this. We don’t have much. We barely get by, but a disaster such as what happened down the street would cripple us.”
The YVSA recommends all homeowners should have an installed backflow preventer handling back pressure where the pressure in the downstream piping is greater than the supply pressure (this is caused by a pump or elevation of water in a high rise building), and the other type of back flow is back siphon which is caused by sub-atmospheric pressure in the water system piping.
According to the YVSA, the cost ranges from $100 to $500 depending on the size of the lot.
“If I personally moved in a town and I was on public sewer I would have it,” said Johnston.
The homeowner impacted by the sewage incident has not come forward publicly. His name and address are being withheld.