Raw Sewage Inundates West Central Fresno Neighborhood

November 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Raw sewage has invaded one West Central Fresno neighborhood and its been an ongoing health concern for some time now. All 44 homes in this community are not connected to the city's sewage lines. That means that every home relies on septic tanks for disposal. Residents said after being annexed 20 plus years ago it's time the city help clean up the mess.

A concrete slab is the only thing separating Rils from what's inside her septic tank. Unfortunately she is too familiar with this mess and its health risks. And so are all of her neighbors along Cortland Avenue who have gone without a city sewer system for nearly 30 years.

"It should have been done a long time ago. I mean they built all these neighborhoods around us," said Isaul Lemus.

Lemus and his family were forced to relocate while they remodel their home.

"This area would see a lot of water back up," he said pointing to where the washer and dryer hook up was.

Toxic mold started forming after his septic tank kept backing up.

Most of the residents in this neighborhood have similar septic tanks in their back yards however they said the biggest problem is when it rains. Waste water rises up flooding the backyard, creating swamp like conditions.

"I can't believe that we as a city have allowed development and growth to go around this particular neighborhood," said Fresno council member Blong Xiong.

Xiong received $300,000 dollars from the federal government to add sewer lines through the neighborhood. 'Good news' said residents but now they have to pay to connect their property to the city lines. That can run as much as $5,000 a home. Xiong said the city Redevelopment Agency (RDA) is working to reduce the cost of that connection fee.

Xiong said, "We're hoping to do it all at once because if the group agrees to do it it's a lot less expensive than individually done."

Xiong is meeting Wednesday with residents to explore those payment options. Construction on the new sewer could begin as early as January.


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