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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

City Crews Look for Causes of Sewage Backup

After raw sewage oozed into several businesses, many owners want to know who is responsible for the costly clean up. City crews are examining the cause of a sewage backup in the 3100 block of south Campbell that closed the doors to at least one business. A sign on the door of All Star Barber Shop said "Closed due to the city sewer line clogging. Open Friday."

The owner, Zeb Thomas, showed KSPR News a picture of the barber shop covered in murky water and sewage. “The water and sewage was at least up to here flooding out into the parking lot,” Thomas said. Thomas says even the outside of his business was a mess. “There was water and sewage like a waterfall coming out of here,” Thomas said while pointing to a pipe.

He says not only was he disturbed by what he saw but also what he smelled. He says the stench was overwhelming. “It's not just people walking in and dry heaving,” Thomas said. “We've had one or two people actually throw up.” Thomas isn't alone. “I found that I had raw sewage coming right through the bathroom, right onto the rug,” Hair Classics, Inc. Salon owner Jeanne Batchelor said. “It was completely flooded. It was so thick you could not see the carpet.” Like Thomas, Batchelor hired professional cleaners. Owners say a city sewer line backup caused the damage.

City crews first got a call about issues near a restaurant. "We received a call about some sewage issues at Campbell and Battlefield around Lone Star restaurant,” Springfield Environmental Services Director Steve Meyer said. City crews flushed the line. They then got calls from five businesses in the shopping center south of Lone Star Steakhouse. “I do everything I can to be a responsible business owner by keeping my license up by keeping insurance on the place,” Batchelor said. “I feel like somebody needs to be responsible for this just as they ask me to be responsible.”

City crews are using a closed circuit television camera to determine the cause. “If there is a break down in our line and we do determine it was our fault, then yes they will make a claim and we will make a payment,” Meyer said.

Thomas says he hopes that's the case “It's not our fault,” Thomas said. “The city sewer line backed up and caused this to happen. That's the bottom line.”

Meyers says it is unusual for a backup to occur when it is not raining. Late Tuesday, he said crews found grease is an issue but they are still trying to determine an exact cause of the sewage backup.

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