Letter to the Editor:Mayor Curtatone and Stan Koty Neglected Somerville Resident’s Sewer Issues on Claremon and Mead – Ward 7 For Years

Dear Somerville News Weekly Speak Up Line,

About 10 years ago, I had a problem with the sewer line entering our home. We noticed a small but evident back up in our main sewer pipe in the basement.
Drain Doctor inspected the pipe and said they were certain it was on the street. After repeated calls to city hall, I was met with an excavator who wanted to dig in my yard, because the city didn’t want to investigate the “chimney”, in the street which my sewer line is attached. 
The guy who showed up was sent by ISD and said it would cost me $5k “just to put his shovel in the ground”. I told him to take his shovel and go home.
 I was later met by some guy from DPW, don’t recall his name. He kept pressuring me to dig up my yard. I told him this was on the city based on findings of Drain Doctor (retained receipt of their observations) and insisted they dig up the street.
 I called present Alderman and the engineering office at city hall. They agreed to open up the street to investigate the problem. I wasn’t notified of their findings and came home from work to find it had already been paved over. I called the alderman who said the city rerouted my sewer line into my neighbors sewer pipe since my sewer pipe collapsed and, “the city had no money to repair it”.
This testimony was taken at a closed meeting at city hall several years ago regarding sewer back ups residents were experiencing. I believe it’s worth noting again. My sewer line is on Mead Street, but my address is on Claremon. 
During this period of flash flooding, several of my neighbors had raw sewer in their basements. One neighbor who owns 2 triple deckers showed me the damage to his one basement, after he removed the sewer water. It smelled so bad, I could only remain a few minutes.
About 6 months ago, I noticed dampness on the floor of my basement. My daughter noticed some sewerage which came up into a utility sink. I asked that DPW take a look. They arrived to look at the basement. I told them about the other neighbors complaints and they asked why they hadn’t called the city, accusing them of not pulling permits in their homes and why no calls were made. I found their behavior disturbing and they offered no useful information. When I mentioned the issue which happened ten years ago, they said I needed to keep it to myself.
During the closed meeting one resident in Davis Square stated he was forced to replace 3 furnaces over a period of 5 years due to sewer back ups, standing water of 5 feet. He paid for the replacements out of his own pocket. 
When you look at the history of these events and wonder how many more untold stories were not shared, I can’t help wonder why. 
I should also add that a DPW worker, who accompanied the manager, tried to tell them something about what they found in the manhole (Mead/Claremon) and they said “don’t mention that to her”, as I was in my back hall, waiting for them to join me in my basement. The door was closed, but I viewed them whispering on my back steps and heard her words, so what are they hiding?
I’m not happy about the water increase, especially for the fact that we have a 200 year old sewer system that has been neglected and is most likely beyond repair. My elder family members who owned construction companies and renovated former Cutler School W7, and various other buildings, including the building of PHCS can attest to the fact that our sewer system is “ancient”.
I thank you for doing this by publishing this in The Somerville News Weekly because it’s important that we address the water and sewer issues. 
Gentrification has ruined our city and I believe the sewer issue will be another football that gets kicked around as a way to force more working class out of our city.
The last engineer (girl with the red bow, NY) stated at the closed meeting that the developers of Union Square will be providing a new sewer system. That’s great– for all those transient residents who can afford monthly $3000 rents and million dollar condos.
What about the rest of the city? Can we conclude the reality is that our sewer system is broken due to age and over capacity? 
I will do everything to safeguard my home in order to provide a healthy and safe environment. It’s obvious there are some who would rather threaten fines for failure to pull permits than correct a faulty sewer system. Couldn’t this be interpreted as a form of blackmail? 
If our $270 water hike goes towards fixing the sewer system, can the alderman oversee the money is actually going there and not paying for the mayor’s mounting lawsuits? Maybe we should ask Steve Wynn to fix our sewer system. I’d be happy to lead the crowd. I’m sure we’d have a better chance than the 5 year lawsuit did.
Judy Ward7

3 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor:Mayor Curtatone and Stan Koty Neglected Somerville Resident’s Sewer Issues on Claremon and Mead – Ward 7 For Years”

  1. I am so glad I moved out of Somerville years ago. Only reason I come back once a year is to visit family and friends. This is the most corrupt city I know of and the FBI should investake this so called mayor. Drop a dime folks and get rid of the corruptions.Can always move to western Pa where housing costs are 1/3 of what they are in Somerville. Areas of Johnstown are perfect with lots of room.

  2. Similar situation on Ware St that I have brought to our alderwoman’s attention numerous times and many before her for several years. Like you, to no avail! Back ups, clean ups and drain experts have cost me a small fortune as I too am being told to dig up my driveway, stone wall, walkway etc. I will be paying very close attention to the comments and feedback from this letter. Thank you for writing it!

  3. Steve,

    Do not spend anymore money on this problem. There is enough evidence to reveal that many residents have experienced similar issues.

    I capped off my pipes in the basement even took out my utility sink because I worried I may encounter the same fate of my neighbor. He just spent $40k fixing the problem. What complicated matters in his case is that he also had a tree that was altering the pitch of his sewer pipe as it entered the street. But somehow he got hold of the engineering plans which showed a straight pipe entry not curved as other neighbors. I don’t know all the details of his situation but the city provided no information or remedy to the 4 separate incidences of raw sewerage flooding his basement.

    I have a plumber who has over 25 years experience working in homes and complicated commercial properties in the area. Based on his wealth of knowledge and experience, he believes the main issue is over capacity which equates to – too many condos and over development. It would be one thing if our sewer system was new and a worthy set of engineers could figure out capacity limits. But our system is already outdated- like equivalent to Stone Age. My family member born and raised as well, contractor who worked for the city told me that it’s impossible for the city to put in a new system because of the over capacity.

    Someone at the last meeting (over a year ago), at SHS cafeteria with members of aldermen and DPW, claimed– the sewer system should be paid by the municipality and federal government– not the residents and homeowners of our city. She recited a law and unfortunately it was not distributed to members who attended. But I’m sure a good journalist could investigate.

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