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County seeks sewage solution

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com

Wabash residents are still fighting for a solution to their broken septic tanks on Cloverleaf Drive.

Earlier this month, husband and wife Jake O’Neill and Aimee Emrick confronted the Board of Public Works and Safety as well as the Wabash County Commissioners about the defunct sewer system in their neighborhood.

O’Neill and Emrick’s home is “unlivable” due to a backed up septic system, flooded leach field and utility easement that means their home’s tank is never empty. Located on State Road 13, just outside Wabash City limits, O’Neill said previous homeowners in the area faced similar issues of a poor, backed up septic system and paid for the privilege of being hooked up to city sewage.

During a Board of Works meeting last week, Mayor Scott Long said that service would cost the homeowners up to $50,000, which was out of their price range.

“The people on our block split the cost last time, but for some reason our house was left out of it,” he said.

Emrick said they have faced these problems for the last three years and are working with the city to get a solution by means of getting their sewage connected to a nearby church’s line, but that’s only temporary.

“The city is working with the county to find a resolution to the issue,” Long said at the commissioners meeting. “It won’t be a speedy process, but we’re working to the best of our ability.”

O’Neill said he’d been told that a “real solution” could take another six months.

“Do you know what it’s like waking up and not being able to flush the toilet,” Emrick said. “I can’t use the sink, I can’t use the shower. It’s unlivable.” 

Last week, Commissioner Scott Givens said the simplest solution would be to establish a sewer district in the area, but the neighborhood doesn’t have high enough pollution to establish one.

In addition to Emrick and O’Neill, other homes on Cloverleaf are facing septic issues. O’Neill said in working with local government his goal is to find a permanent solution for his home and his neighbors. 

The Wabash County Commissioners will not meet again until 2019.