12 On Your Side: Man has water problems in his backyard

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Water has been running like a stream since December through 87-year-old Bill Rouse's backyard. He says he doesn't know why, and he can't get any answers from the county. So Bill's family called 12 to straighten it out.

Bill Rouse is a World War II veteran, and accustomed to handling his own problems. But this one wasn't getting the right attention from Henrico, he says. If you need combat boots to keep your feet dry while walking through your backyard, you've got a problem.

Bill is looking for a simple answer from Henrico County: why is his backyard soggy, soaked, covered in water?

"It's terrible. You can't get to your backyard. Can't get to your tool shed to even get a shovel out. Up to your ankles in mud and water," he said.

Water started flowing like a stream back in December. Since then, Bill can't work in his garden or cut his grass because the mower gets stuck and spins. His daughter, Paulette Klein, worries about his safety.

"He comes out here and it being mushy, he loses his balance and he hurts himself," Paulette said. "Of course, the damage it could cause to the foundation. The mold."

The family hired a soil scientist to try and get some answers of their own, after striking out with the county, they say.

"This is the soil here and you see how bright it is, this does not indicate any real long-term saturation," said John Harper with Environmental Soil Consultants.

The expert has a theory. He believes it happened in August of last year when the county conducted sewer work at two houses one street over.

"They relined the sewer line to stop infiltration, which possibly increased the level of water around the outside of that pipe, which appears to have increased the flow down through here," he explained.

The homeowner says they called 12 when they couldn't get a definite reason and the county responded. We waited some time to see what areas would be tested.

"They must have heard something about the news, Channel 12 was coming out. I mean they parked out here like flies," Bill said.

Henrico says the replacement of sewer lines may have upset the flow pattern of ground water inadvertently. Since our interview with the family, the county has tested sewer lines for leaks and found none. We're told today, the county will dig up the two sewer connections and install a concrete barrier around them and see if that stops the flow.

"Find out where the water is coming from and fix it," Bill said.

Henrico's Assistant Director of Public Utilities Bill Moyer called today. He says the county is working with the family, and has a plan to try and find the source of the surface water and stop it. A crew will start next week.

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