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Vickie Howard watches David Tucker and Jeffrey Freeman bed a sewer line at her home at 142 Hamaker St. in the Flint community of Southwest Decatur.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Vickie Howard watches David Tucker and Jeffrey Freeman bed a sewer line at her home at 142 Hamaker St. in the Flint community of Southwest Decatur.

Flushing
without fear

Flint residents with failing
septic tanks opt for sewer

By Chris Paschenko
chris@decaturdaily.com 340-2442

Flushing without fear is the new motto for a few Decatur residents in the Flint community, after contractors connected sewerage to their homes Monday.

The low-lying area on the south side of the city near Flint Creek is susceptible to flooding. The clay soil doesn't percolate well and isn't suitable for septic tanks.

Fred Vengrouskie, a supervisor with the Morgan County Health Department, identified the area in 2002 as having the most failing septic tanks in the county.

Vickie Howard said she and her husband moved into their Hamaker Street Southwest home about two years ago, unaware of the septic-tank problems to come.

"We didn't know every time we flushed the commode or washed clothes, we'd have our septic tank run over," Howard said. "We had sewage floating on top of the ground. We'd clean out the septic tank and it would get full again."

Funding in thirds

Extending sewerage to Hamaker Street was funded in thirds. Residents funded a third, Decatur Utilities paid for a third and the city picked up the rest of the tab. Once the city extends sewer lines along the right of way, residents must pay to connect their property.

"Our total bill was about $4,200," Howard said. "We're the first ones on the street to hook up, and we're so excited. ... It was worth the cost, because it was very unsanitary."

Decatur Councilman Gary Hammon, who represents the Flint community, said he wants to bring septic-tank relief to Mill Street Southwest residents next.

"I've been preaching all along that it's only OK to sell bonds to build roads and sewers," Hammon said. "That's all infrastructure. I'd like to do Mill Street next, but residents seem to be interested and then when it's ready to run they don't seem interested."

Some residents have said they can't afford to fund a third of the project, and the fewer residents participating, the more it costs each household.

"I'd like to have a logical progression with money in hand from the federal government," Hammon said. "But as it stands right now, whoever can come up to us and say my neighborhood's interested, hopefully we can get enough to participate where it's financially viable to do it."

Hammon said the next project could begin in 2008.

"We're talking about the entire health of Morgan County," Hammon said. "Because if it doesn't go into the sewer, it goes right into Flint Creek and right into the Tennessee River. I thought the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) would have been interested, but I haven't been able to stir up any interest from them."

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