Lou and Zetta Weber are some of the residents of West Monticello Subdivision who are dealing with issues of the aging sewer system, particularly when there is a heavy rain.
The Webers were among approximately 25 residents in that area who
attended a public meeting on Tuesday, September 24 at the Monticello
The meeting was held to better inform residents about the planned
sewer project and expansion in that area, and to help secure about 10
easements that have yet to be signed.
The Webers stated during the meeting that every time there is heavy
rain, the manhole on their property overflows and runs back to the
creek on the other side of the property.
Monticello Utility Commission Manager Scott Upchurch said the
Webers' aren't the only residents dealing with this type of problem,
and that is what prompted officials to look at upgrading the existing
system and to also expand to unserved customers with this project.
"For years now, there has been a problem in West Monticello
Subdivision with sewer overflow," Upchurch told the residents who met
last week. "It was a line that was built in the late 1960s and early
1970s. And that is probably the biggest area of growth in our city
and it has just outgrown the system."
About five years ago\, the city contracted an engineering firm, who
started looking at ways to alleviate the problems that residents were
dealing with. Upchurch said the result of that was a three phase
project. One phase will correct what is wrong with West Monticello
Subdivision. The other phases will expand to different parts of the
city which do not have sewer service.
Kelly Gillespie, with Bell Engineering, also attended the meeting.
He explained that there are about 100 customers in the city without
sewer service now. This project would help cover those residents and
provide them the service.
The project is estimated to cost $3.5 million, and funding has
already been approved through a combination of USDA Rural Development
grant and loan funds. But for about a year, it has stalled out as
officials continued to obtain easements from property owners who will
be affected by the construction.
"They will not allow the project to go for bid or construction until
all easements are signed," explained Gillespie.
Upchurch noted that about 75 percent of property owners have signed
easements, and only about 10 property owners have not consented yet.
He indicated the purpose of last week's meeting was to bring
engineers and residents together to perhaps alleviate some of the
concerns surrounding the project.
"A common thinking I have heard is that my ground is going to get
torn up and I don't want that to happen," said Upchurch.
He explained that the contractor for the project is obligated to
restore property back to its original state.
"I suggest that before the project begins take a picture of your
land the way it was was and once it is over ask that it be restored
to that level," said Upchurch.
He said he had also heard concerns about fences having to be cut or
the loss of gardens and field crops. Gillespie said that fences will
have to be restored and that other issues can be worked out.
Several of the residents had specific questions regarding their
property, and the meeting was opened up so that officials could
review plans with those individuals.
Residents like the Webers did ask what would happen if all easements
are not obtained. Upchurch explained that the utility commission
would take the issue to a judge for eminent domain.