Published: June 13, 2018

Residents complain about sewer backups



Rachel WagonerEagle Staff Writer

CRANBERRY TWP — Several residents from the Fox Run neighborhood came to air grievances over sewage backups in their homes that caused thousands of dollars in damage.

Maureen Krupa and Arthur Novosel said sewage water backed up in the lower levels of their homes on Fox Run Road Jan. 12 when unseasonably warm weather and heavy rain caused flooding around much of the area.

“With the last heavy rain, we got 6 inches of water in our lower levels,” Krupa said, adding it was clear it was raw sewage.

This was not the first time they’ve had issues, Krupa said. Her basement first flooded with sewage in 2006 when the area flooded after Hurricane Ivan, but they thought it was a once in a lifetime event so they repaired the damage to their home without reporting the issue to the township.

“In 2006, we were set back about $6,000,” she said. “We figured it wouldn’t happen again. Now this time we’re out about $5,000.”

Novosel said any time there is a heavy rain at night he can’t sleep for fear of the issue happening again.

“I think you knew there was a problem,” Novosel said. “It’s a shame that you can’t even rely on your township to make right on this.”

While the two neighbors both said Joe Leavens, manager of sewer and water field operations, had been incredibly helpful in fixing the problem this time, they were unhappy that the township did not reimburse them for damages to their homes.

The township is protected by sovereign immunity, Jerry Andree, township manager, said at the meeting’s conclusion, although the neighbors had left before he addressed the issue. This means the government is only responsible if it had notice of a prior condition.

“Nothing is harder than following the law with sovereign immunity,” he said. “We’re very very sorry that happened. It is difficult, I understand. But the law is the law.”

On Jan. 12, Andree said the entire sanitary system was overloaded with floodwaters.

When Leavens investigated the issue on Fox Run Road afterward, he found illegal connections were made to the sewer line upstream of the affected homes that also could have contributed to the back up issue, Andree said.

Krupa said she was happy with the work Leavens was doing, but felt the township had possibly neglected maintenance on the line and that caused the issues in her home.

“The sewage line doesn’t belong to us. We’re paying you to use it. We just feel like if the maintenance had been done that you knew of at the time … it wouldn’t have happened,” she said.