Homeowner at odds with city over sewage backing up into his yard

Man blames city for raw sewage in his yard

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - It’s been a nasty problem since last December - raw sewage spewing out into Ron Bassett’s yard.

The City of Petersburg knows all about it, but the problem is still unresolved.

Bassett believes the problem is with the city’s sewer line, not his. He says he dug up his yard twice and replaced all the pipes and has done everything the city asked of him.

But the city is standing firm saying quote, “the city is able to assist Bassett but there’s a cost associated with connecting private sewage to the city’s lines.”

Bassett decided to dig a trench in his yard while talks with the utilities department remain at a standstill for the past three months. There’s a bad smell he says on warm days, but at least his man-made ditch contains waste that gushes out whenever a toilet is flushed inside the home.

“Before I dug this little trench, everything would come out and be all over my house and go under my porch and make it to the sidewalk," Bassett said. "So, I dug this little trench so that everything that comes out flushed down and sits right there in that little circle right there.”

(Source: NBC12)

Bassett improvised another way to provide some type of relief for his wife and kids by running a pipe out his back window to release water from the washing machine into the yard. Otherwise, he says it all backs up in the house.

“It’s frustrating everyday. Everyday I work so hard and the same situation is going on," Bassett said. "One day I hope when I come home the city is out here fixing it ,but that’s not going to happen.”

His theory is that the city’s pipe isn’t improperly installed and points the wrong way.

“My yard is at an angle. It’s like 2 feet from that pipe," Bassett said. "When it gets down to the fence, it’s like almost 4 feet. It’s supposed to be at a angle so whenever you flush anything it’s going downhill, instead of just sitting like that. All the toilet paper and stuff sitting there.”

Petersburg’s public affairs coordinator returned a request for comment, but did not mention of how the city determined the problem is Bassett’s.

An email said several people have been out on multiple occasions and that they are willing to help the family but it will cost them. It also said Bassett agreed to pay.

Bassett said he did, even though he doesn’t admit fault because he needs the problem fixed.

“I needed it done. I’m tired of it. I can’t sit here and let it keep building up like this," Bassett said. "First thing they said, well, we don’t just fix problems. We’ll put a clean out in front of your yard and you’ll have to pay $2,400, and I’m like $2,400 and it’s not even my problem?”

Bassett said communication with the city stopped when he told Petersburg he couldn’t pay that amount in 30 days

“I just think they should come out and talk to me and see what’s the problem," Bassett said.

Bassett said he would dig up the street, if he had the power to, but there’s a hefty fine for that.

A plumbing company is needed to help troubleshoot the cause. If you know of someone who would able to help, call (804) 345-1212 or email dwalker@nbc12.com.

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