Sinkholes and sewage plague Harrisburg neighborhood

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Since the huge sinkholes opened on the 2100 block of N. 4th Street in Harrisburg in January, neighbors say sewage has permeated the air and occasionally flooded their basements.

“The real bad smell in the morning and at night, like when it gets really, really hot outside, there’s a really bad smell,” said Jenefer Casiano who lives on the block.

Some neighbors believe there’s a direct connection between the work the city did to repair the aging lines that gave way this winter. But, Kevin Hagerich, the head of the city’s public works department said Monday that’s not necessarily the case.

Hagerich pointed to the face that the pipes in the street were over 100 years old when they failed. He said some of the homeowners’ pipes may be in similar condition and their responsibility to fix. He also pointed to recent heavy rainfall creating a backup.

“So, if our street’s starting to fail, some of their plumbing’s starting to fail,” said Hagerich.

City Councilor Sandra Reid held a meeting Monday aimed at getting a clearer idea of what’s creating the sewage issue.

“Not that we’re responsible, the city’s not taking any responsibility or liability,” said Reid. “There’s no indication from the city’s standpoint that the replacement of the line is the sole reason why (the sewage) came.”

Councilor Susan Brown-Wilson called the situation “strange.” She went on to say, “And there should be no backup in those homes because those homes have been there. They’ve never had a problem before.”

The city has sent letters to homeowners informing them of a new sewer line warranty program, aimed at cutting down on high sewer line repair costs, which can run several thousand dollars. The program is offered through Sewer Line Warranties of America.

While neighbors deal with the sewage issue, their road remains closed. Hagerich said his crews have some work left to do on the sewer system but plan to have the road reopened by August 1.