Greenwood sewer fix in the works, but years away

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GREENWOOD (Feb. 3, 2016) - Several Greenwood residents are eager for a solution to the recurring problem of raw sewage backing up into their homes during torrential rain and flooding.

It’s happened to homeowner Kurt Schoch three times since 2008. The most recent event was in July last year, when parts of Greenwood received four to five inches of rain in a short amount of time.

“You could say it was shooting up at least that height out of the toilet,” Schoch said, holding his hand about two feet over his basement toilet. “It would just come up and just kind of spill over the side, and then fill up the bathtub as well.”

Schoch and several other residents in the Brentridge Estates subdivision had similar problems during heavy rains in 2013 and 2008. Black sewer water came rushing up through sump pumps, toilets and bathtubs. Schoch said the July event ended with about 14 inches of smelly, black water in his basement. While insurance has covered some of the cost of repair and restoration, Schoch estimates the sewer backups have cost him about $20,000 out of pocket.

“We have not replaced a lot of items that were not restorable,” Schoch said. “So as we replace those, it’s just another out-of-pocket cost.”

Since the sewer backup in July, Schoch says he spent about $5,000 to have a check valve system installed on his property. The check valve works as a one-way flow director.

“The waste can go out from the house one way, but if anything tries to come back, then it shuts itself off and closes against the rest of the sewer line,” Schoch said.

Schoch is not alone. Brentridge Estates Neighborhood Association President Roberta Smithey says she has been working with multiple neighbors who had similar experiences with sewer backups. Some residents have expressed interest in moving out of the subdivision.

“The devastation was extensive and we, to date, have lost our carpet, cabinets, chairs, bookshelves, elliptical, treadmill, inversion table, books, pictures, clothes, and we might lose our pool table and maybe our furnace,” one neighbor wrote to Smithey in July. “We are now waiting to have our basement decontaminated. The damage will likely be over $25,000 and we are emotionally, physically, and financially devastated. The odor has been terrible and has only now begun to subside.”

“We are considering moving,” the homeowner continued. “But who would buy a home that has been flooded two times in three years?”

The sewage problems in the Brentridge Estates subdivision are located near a lift station, which sits next to Honey Creek. The housing addition sits off Morgantown Road, north of Stones Crossing Road.

But Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers says the lift station isn't the problem. He says the backups originate about five miles north of the neighborhood where three sewer lines converge together.

“There’s so much fluid going into that, that it hits there and backs up from that point,” Myers said. “And it backs up all the way eventually to that one lift station.”

Myers says the subdivision is in a low-lying location on a flood plain, which has an unfortunate effect with the city’s sewer systems get backed up during torrential rains.

“That’s topographically a very low area, and gravity is working against them.”

Myers said the city of Greenwood does have a plan in the works to fix the problem. An interceptor, or new sewer line, is being designed and will be put into the ground in the area of State Road 37 and Wicker Road. It will be used to take pressure off the city-wide sewer system.

“Which is a very large pipe that will surround a lot of the White River Township area and take that flow off and pump it to Marion County where we pump all of our sewage now,” Myers said.

But construction on the new interceptor won’t begin until 2018. Until then, Myers recommends residents invest in check valve systems like Schoch did.

He’s also asking for patience.

“I’m sympathetic to them,” Myers said. “I understand their problem. And we’re investing 30 million dollars to try to fix their problem and take care of them.”

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