Tuesday, April 20

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Round two of Campus View
drainage problems   
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[APRIL 20, 2004]  For the second week running, the city council again deliberated over many issues. This week the evening began with a committee meeting at 7 p.m. to continue a discussion from last week.

Septic problems continue to plague two residents on Campus View Drive. Kevin Bateman and Mike Robbins have approached the council many times in years past but have come this time with a request that the city pay once only to move their septic fields. They say that septic experts have said it will solve their problem at much less cost than the extensive flood control measures the city could do. [See previous report at http://archives.lincolndailynews.com/
2004/Apr/14/News_new/today_e.shtml
.]

The biggest questions at the end of discussion last week were whether the city could pay for a septic system change on private property with public funds, and if the city did it for these families, how many others might ask for the same benefit. There are other areas incorporated into city limits that do not receive sewer hookup.

Bateman's and Robbins' septic systems don't work when it rains. Bateman said that his yard floods with 2 feet of water when it rains of three-fourths of an inch. When that happens their septic systems back up into their homes.

Although the city-owned portion of Campus View ends at the curve and their homes are at the end of the block, it is believed that the flooding in their back yards is contributed to by city-owned streets.

Previous research into the problem ended when street drainage and flood control estimates for the area proved too extensive and cost-prohibitive.

Several years ago the residents were told that if funding could be secured, the city would run sewer to the area. The funding did not come through.

Grant Eaton from Environment Management Corporation, which manages the city sewer system, went out to reassess the area. He said he thought that the pine trees lining the Robbins property probably have clogged his laterals with roots and that contributes to the problem.

He also pointed out that septic systems have a limited life span of 10-20 years at the most. The systems for the homes in question have been in place an estimated 30 years.

 

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Eaton has contacted the health department to inquire about the possibility of running a drainage pipe from the yard to the field next to it, which is owned by Lincoln Christian College.

This can be done if the college signs an easement agreement that protects the placement of the pipe in case of the college selling the property.

Another expert from the field spoke to the council to present one other option, much less costly, that the city could consider in place of running sewer to this and other similar sites. Doug Ebelherr, who is retired from the Illinois Department of Public Health, managed their on-site wastewater program for the entire state.

Ebelherr said that the national trend is for small communities to put in cluster systems that serve small groups of homes. The systems are then managed by the city.

In a situation like the Campus View, homes would have septic tanks that are gravity-flowed to a collection line leading to a community system, such as for 10 homes or so in this case. If a property or area were too low, an effluent pump would be used to move the fluid portion. A common drain field of three-fourths to one acre is needed and that is managed by the city. Solids remain in the septic tanks. This system typically costs about $150,000 to install.

This would enable the city to address the problem and eliminate the problem of addressing an individual property. The city could charge a sewer tax to help offset the costs of installation and management.

With so much new information to factor in, the council felt it best to table a decision and agreed to continue to discuss it in the future.

[Jan Youngquist]

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