By Sue Moore
If a basement has been overflowing with sewage from the Village of Vicksburg’s sewer line, every now and then since 2003, what would most people do? Get mad, get after the village Department of Public Works (DPW) and Village Manager, or finally come to a Village Council meeting to complain. All three have finally netted some results.
Three or more homes off V Avenue on the west side of the Village have been experiencing their basements flooding with raw sewage, most recently just a few weeks ago. The clean-up costs range between $1,500 to $2,000 each time, but more than anything it’s the inconvenience, Ron Markan explained to council members. Others affected by the backups include Kim and Richard Furney next door to Markan’s.
Bill Adams, village president, stated unequivocally that this time the problem would be addressed and the money would be found to fix it. “We have frozen tundra right now and we are waiting for a grant from the state to scope the entire sewer system so we can identify where we have further problems,” he said. Ken Schippers, acting village manager indicated that several attempts have been made to make temporary fixes. The pumping station on V Avenue gets tangled up with diapers and other materials that clog up the works, so the department guys often have to go clean it out, he said. Plus the eight inch forced main line coming from the Allen Edwin development, down V Avenue is not large enough to handle the effluent from the 400 plus new houses that have been built in the last ten years he explained.
Making the problem even worse, is the lost revenue the village might have had if the newest homes in the Allen Edwin plat had been charged for water and sewer hookups, Councilmember Chris Newman said. He has been studying whether the Council ever approved the reduction in rates and through careful examination of the past minutes has concluded that no mention was ever made of such a promise. The lost revenue could total about $600,000 in fees he surmised. He thinks that the Village Manager waived them because Allen Edwin developers during the recession, indicated they might build elsewhere if they didn’t get a cost reduction. Since this was discovered, the hookup fees of $2,800 have been reinstituted, Newman said.
Markan asked the Council for a plan both short term and long term management of the system. It appears that the Village will have the go-ahead to sell bonds and re-finance its debt in the near future, Adams said. He also will ask Schippers to make a weekly report back to the residents on the progress. Bill Hunt commended Schippers and the DPW for coming to their aid, when the worst flooding happens.
The follow up by the Village has included jetting the existing line, a camera showed a root ball in the line and it was removed, and bids for a new line are being sought from two contractors which can’t be built until spring at the earliest.