Heavy rain causes sewage to bubble up into backyards

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COLUMBIA - Heavy rain last night and this morning caused two manholes to overflow in a Columbia backyard.

Kim Kraus said this is a regular problem in Ridgefield Park. The park backs up to the County House Creek and Trail, and both were covered in water.

"We have four manholes in the land behind our houses, and when it rains, if we get any significant rain, the manholes erupt and spew sewage," Kraus said.

She says the city will come out after the rain and put up health hazard signs and spread lime on the grass. 

"A lot of people walk their dogs out here and kids because the trail goes through, so a lot of people, until they get the signs out may not know they need to stay off the grass," she said.

Kraus said this has been a problem since she moved into her house over five years ago. Kraus said she thinks the problem is too much water getting into the sewer system, and said the city has agreed. Columbia City Councilperson Ian Thomas said there are several areas of Cloumbia that are having problems because of "inflow and infiltration of storm water into the sewer system." Kraus said she and her neighbors have talked to the city, but have been put on a waiting list.

"We've been in our house five and a half years, and the city has known about it that whole time," Kraus said. "We've been told it could be as long as 2021 before any of the fixes are done."

Kraus said the sewage is often diluted by the rain water, which is a small benefit.

"Well I guess the upside is that it doesn't smell bad all the time," she said. "You would think with raw sewage, it would smell horrible."

Standing water was another concern Kraus had, and said her neighborhood is a low spot anyway.

Her biggest worry now is that the city is growing too quickly for the sewer system to keep up.

"My main concern is the city keeps growing and expanding and the sewer connections keep growing," Kraus said. "In fact we've got a development going in behind us that's going to have more than 90 units, and they're going to connect into our sewer line. With taking more than 12 years to do the repairs, it's my concern that the city can't take care of what they have already, so why keep expanding and adding on?"