SORRENTO — The Town Council unanimously declared an emergency Thursday and agreed to hire a private firm to assess and repair problems at the city’s sewer treatment ponds.
Councilman Randy Anny said during the council’s special meeting on the issue that action was needed because for the second time in seven days, residents reported sewage flowing into their homes.
Anny said that the center of the problem is a pipe at the city’s Bertrand Street sewer pond that lies 8 feet below mud and sludge. He asked that the pipe be raised, relieving the pressure that is causing problems with sewer pumps.
He also asked that SLC Contractors be hired to determine if larger sewer pumps are needed, reroute sewer lines on Cypress Street and improve electrical wiring at the city’s sewer ponds.
“Whatever it takes, we need to get this fixed,” Anny said after the meeting.
Anny and Councilman Milton “Needlenose” Vicknair said the town is responsible for repairing damage caused by the malfunctioning sewer system.
Anny said the problems with the system have been going on for two years and he wants a solution for the health and safety of the residents. He said some 20 houses on Braud, Johnson and Main streets have reported sewage gets into their homes when lines become clogged and the pumps stop.
“I don’t want no more studies,” Vicknair said as he seconded Anny’s motion to declare the sewer system problems an emergency and hire SLC Contractors to fix the problem.
Mayor Wilson Longanecker Jr. said that while he, too, is concerned about sewage entering houses, he also is concerned about the cost of the project.
No cost estimate was given during the meeting, but afterward, Longanecker estimated that it could cost up to $100,000 to raise the pipe and repair the problems Anny mentioned.
Longanecker said he believes some of the problems are being caused by someone vandalizing the pumps. He said that since new locks were installed at the station, the pumps have not stopped.
Longanecker questioned why the town wouldn’t turn to its own engineer to come up with a recommendation.
“They already told us the pumps are too small,” Vicknair said.
“I’m tired of coming to meetings and saying the same thing over and over,” Anny said.
Council members Anny, Vicknair and John Wright were present for the special meeting and voted to approve the motion.