COLUMBIA — After years of leaking pipes and overflowing toilets, some residents in the Fourth Ward might soon find relief.
The Columbia City Council on Monday night voted unanimously to approve two sewer projects in the Old Southwest that together will cost nearly $2.5 million. The projects are intended to address sewer problems in 87 homes.
“This goes a long way in addressing the sewer overflow needs of some of our constituents,” Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said.
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said Fourth Ward residents have been anticipating this kind of maintenance after years of paying into the system. Although the city is rethinking how it funds infrastructure improvements, she said, repairs for those who really need it are "exactly what we should be doing."
Garth Avenue resident Dwight Rieman, 96, said before the meeting that 10 years ago, he started experiencing sewer problems. Sewage backed up 4 feet deep into the basement, and Rieman had to replace indoor and outdoor pipes.
"The city didn't assume any responsibility for it," he said. "They said it was my fault. I had to pay for repairs myself."
Rieman's daughter, Elizabeth Rieman, said the home has continued to have problems with leaking pipes, while the flooding the family experienced was a "neighborhoodwide mini-disaster."
"We've all had major flooding due to a failure of the general sewer system," she said.
Residents serviced by sewer systems in the area have been struggling with stoppages, backups and overflows since 2003. Homeowners have been requesting sewer maintenance for years, and preliminary designs have been in the works since 2008.
Public Works Director John Glascock said in past reports to the council that both sewer projects would address systems that are "in a state of failure." The sewer lines are deteriorating because they're old and they were built poorly, he wrote.
The estimated cost for the Westwood-Glenwood project, which will address problems at 13 homes, is $270,000, of which nearly $200,000 has already been appropriated.
The estimated cost for the Thilly, Lathrop, Westmount sewer project, which is intended to improve service for 74 homes, is $2.2 million, of which more than $600,000 has already been appropriated. In addition to the sewer improvements, council approved $546,000 worth of water distribution system improvements and $300,000 for burying electric lines for the neighborhood.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.