Town of Essex issues homeowner order after sewage leak

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The Town of Essex has ordered a resident to install a new septic system after raw sewage leaked down a Harrow street lined with homes.

“I have a clean water pipe right next to hers that comes from the ditch,” said Sabrina Ulch, who launched the complaint that led to the bylaw order. “So the smell is coming up into the house now. I have been kind of monitoring with a number rating. Right now the smell inside of my kitchen is at seven. If you go out onto the lawn it’s a nine.”

Ulch, who lives on County Road 11 between Concession Road 3 and Concession Road 4, said she spotted the sewage last Wednesday.

Town spokesman Alex Denonville said Tuesday the bylaw department has issued an order on the home with the leak.

“The Town of Essex Building & By-law Enforcement Division conducted an investigation into the matter on Thursday and Friday of last week,” Denonville said in an email. “The Chief Building Official has issued an order to comply requiring the property owner to replace their current septic system, which has also been pumped out as a temporary measure. Discussions with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservations and Parks are ongoing.”

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Ulch lodged complaints with the bylaw office, councillor Sherry Bondy and Mayor Larry Snively.

Snively did not return a call from the Star on Tuesday. Bondy said she’s been in “daily talks” with town staff about the issue, and bylaw officers went out to investigate the morning after receiving the complaint. She said the homeowners have 60 days to comply with the order.

“Obviously it’s something we take seriously as a town,” said Bondy. “Nobody wants this in a ditch. Our town staff are on top of it and I have confidence that they’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

Ulch said a “clean water pipe” drains out the front of the houses and into the ditch along the road. The sewage goes out back into septic tanks.

She noticed a foul smell last Wednesday while cutting grass and trimming trees at the front of her property. She followed her nose to the front ditch and realized raw sewage was draining from a neighbour’s clean water pipe.

Ulch said the sewage was still there Tuesday, and the leak had extended down the entire length of the ditch between the two Concession roads.

“We still have raw sewage, which is a huge health risk, sitting in our lawns,” she said.

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