Sewage problems in East Moline leave homeowners wanting more help

Frozen service lines in one East Moline neighborhood are causing sewage back up. The City of East Moline has helped pump out the sewage twice for the six homes affected in the Babcock addition near 40th Street and 4th Avenue in East Moline, but residents impacted want more done.

For Kathy Tygart, it has been nearly two weeks since her sewage system ran properly. The pump on her system is working, but the line going out to the main managed by the city is frozen, so the sewage has nowhere to go.

“With having three kids, my husband and I, ya know, we need to take showers, do laundry, cook everything and we can’t do any of that because it is completely full, otherwise it’s going to come back into our house,” said Tygart.

“I have backed up laundry, I need to send the kids over to their grandparents house to take showers and everything else, it is, it’s bad,” she added.

The City of East Moline has helped her pump out the sewage twice, but says it’s now up to her to fix the problem.

“We did go out. We certainly didn’t leave everybody abandoned. We did go out on two different occasions to each one and help these residents and I still continue to feel badly about the situation, but when we have dozens of citizens around the city with frozen water services, we’re not going to try and unfreeze every one of those so it’s just down to an equality sort of thing,” said Tim Kammler, Director of Engineering for the City of Moline.

Kammler said the City of East Moline helped as a courtesy and that the lines that are on the homeowner’s property are their responsibility.

“There are components of utilities that are the homeowner’s responsibility. Their water service and their sewer service in this case, as a homeowner, those are their responsibility, just like a roof on a house would be a homeowners responsibility, so that’s just the way the rules are written,” said Kammler.

Fed up with the problem, Tygart hired a drain technician to fix the problem for an estimated $300 an hour.

“You think okay, they’re coming out to pump it, it’ll work and then it doesn’t. You hear the siren go off again and ya know you’re in trouble. And then to hear how much it costs to actually have this done, I mean how many people have that in their every day budget?” said Tygart.

“Someone at the City told me that they had 22,000 people living in East Moline and they couldn’t spend all of their money on a few people, so it had to be spread around, but I don’t think 22,000 people are having a problem like mine,” said Marian Watnem, who also has a sewage back up problem.

Watnem has been washing her dishes and hair in two pink tubs in her sink, then using a pail to dump the dirty water in her back yard.

“I wish they would take care of it, but I don’t believe they will,” said Watnem.

Both homeowners feel the City of East Moline should take more responsibility because of the sewage systems. A few years ago, the City of East Moline required everyone in the Babcock Addition to replace their septic systems with sewage systems.

“At some point ya, they didn’t have a choice, they had to hook on,” said Kammler, adding “It’s been effective and I think it’s been a tremendous benefit and blessing from a health stand point.”

Kammler said the new system has been running for four years and has had little issue until now.

Tygart and Watnem say they never had any issues with their septic systems and because the City of East Moline has installed this new system, they should continue to help them fix the problem.

“I’d just like the city to step up a little bit more, especially with it being their mains,” said Tygart, “It’s a hose, it’s a 1 ¼” inch hose that goes out to their main that’s completely frozen and I don’t feel like that’s any of my electrical that I should be responsible for, it’s they’re stuff that they put in.”

“It’s a cheap sewer system that was forced down our throat that we have to pay for and now it doesn’t work and that makes me think that the City should do something about it,” said Watnem.

“We are responsible as a City for covering our part and they’re responsible for covering their part. We’ve gone above and beyond, we think to help them cover there’s, given them instruction on how to fix it, we think and that’s just where the chips fall at this point,” said Kammler.

Kammler said a common finding in many of the homes having the problem is low water usage and the weather has not been helpful.

“The weather isn’t fair and it’s kind of beyond our control and ya know we do our best in the City to design water and sewer pipes and our systems too for certain weather but ya know, nobody could anticipate it could be this cold,” said Kammler.

For Tygart and Watnem, it means shelling out hundreds to hire help or wait until it is warm.

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