Neighbors upset they weren’t told of sewage spill

Neighbors upset they weren’t told of sewage spill

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by TONY BURBECK / NewsChannel 36

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on February 21, 2011 at 2:51 PM

WAXHAW, N.C. -- A sewage spill in Waxhaw has neighbors upset over lack of notification.

However, state law doesn't require it.

"You can definitely tell a difference in the odor," said homeowner Karen Lane.

Her backyard stinks, especially when you catch the wrong wind change.

Approximately 300 gallons of raw, toilet paper and feces-filled sewage spilled from an old county pump Friday morning.

She didn't notice the toilet paper until Saturday.

"If it's on somebody's property, they need to notify the owner," Lane said.

But, she says that didn't happen.

"It wasn't until I took matters into my own hands and called that I found it was reported as a spill," she explains.

It was reported by Union County Public Works to the state division of water quality, but not to neighbors. Public notification isn't required unless the spill is more than 1,000 gallons.

Union County Public Works says it knocked on doors, but most people weren't home.

They cleaned the area twice and put down lime.

Their response, plus potential environmental damage and how often they maintain their pumps are a few things the North Carolina Division of Water Quality will consider when determining if the spill should be a citation or include a fine.

While working this story, NewsChannel 36 found an ongoing battle between the town and county.

"The infrastructure that is in place is in many places inadequate and given the age and makeup of it is often times failing," said Waxhaw Mayor Daune Gardner.

Gardner calls is an opportunity to come with a solution.

Former county commissioner Lanny Openshaw says the infrastructure fight comes down to priorities and money.

State investigators say 300 gallons is not a large amount, but they do not take the spill lightly.

It does not appear that the spill reached 12 Mile Creek in Lane's backyard.

Union County Public Works says fences and dogs, both of which Lane has, are two common reasons why it can be hard to get to spills. 

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