Arlington neighborhood forced to pay for sewer repairs

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ARLINGTON, VA (WJLA) – A sanitary necessity is in jeopardy in one Arlington neighborhood. An aging sewer is in desperate need of repair and a dozen homeowners will be stuck footing the bill.

That’s causing a real stink among Lyon Park homeowners like Brenda Wickouski. She has enough on her mind caring for her 100 year-old aunt. When she found out they may have to fork over thousands of dollars to keep their toilets flushing she became furious.

“Who's got that kind of money right here at this time of year," questioned Wickouski.

Her aunt is among several Lyon Park residents who just learned they will have to pay for a new sewage line. The county isn’t giving them an exact price-tag yet as it’ll depend on the circumstances inside and around each home.

“I’m really uptight because they have come out here and cleaned it out and all this black stuff is in your commode," said Wickouski.

A roughly 85 year-old pipe that travels underneath her and her neighbors’ yards in the 900 block of north Daniel and Danville streets is failing beyond repair. The county discovered it neither owns nor has the rights to maintain it.

“We feel for the homeowners who we think are going to have a major capital expense, something unexpected, and we're willing to work with them," said Arlington County Chief Operating Officer Dave Hundelt.

He says the county can't just pick up the tab for a private sanitary sewer. Doing so would be considered gifting the homeowners. That's illegal.

“We've offered to have private meetings with individual property owners as necessary to explain the details and specifics," he said. “We're going to have to work with them and some of the social services that might be available."

Lyon Park resident Ellen Bartlett understands the urgent need to fix the problem.

“The line has deteriorated,” she said. “It has to be taken out of service," she said.

Even though her home is not connected to the private line, she’s trying to help those in a financial pinch. The county says they should take action as soon as possible.

“One neighbor down the block made the suggestion to find out who they had been paying all of these years for sewer service and if it were the county, then they thought the county should take over the costs of connecting them to the sewer that's really the county's," she informed.

The county engineer says the impacted residents are still responsible for that quarterly fee since their sewage eventually reaches the county’s system. It’s treated at the county's water pollution control plant in south Arlington where it's later released.

Arlington County held an information meeting with residents Wednesday night and will continue hearing concerns and answering any questions.