Ongoing Sewage Problems Frustrate Orange Grove Family

Numbers on a budget proposal tell part of the story. The City of Gulfport needs some one hundred twenty five million dollars to upgrade an aging water and sewer system.

But those numbers don't illustrate the need.

An Orange Grove woman truly understands why the system needs fixing.

"Come out here please. And just look at what I've got," said Frances Stark, as she led us to her side yard.

The problem is raw sewage.  Sewage floating toward her house.

"This is sewage. And, it just keeps coming. Here we are. This is raw sewage," she explained, with a voice of frustration.

Heavy rains turn Frances Stark's side yard into a sea of sewage. It's happened dozens of times since she bought her home on St. Charles street some twenty years ago. The sewage overflow was Orange Grove Utility's problem. Now, it's the City of Gulfport's concern.

"Now, the city just keeps saying, well we'll get to it when we can. It's six hundred thousand dollars for that line, about six blocks of it," she said.

We found plenty of raw sewage running out of the manhole cover directly across the street from the Stark's home. Mrs. Stark says several times in the past, the city has sent a pump truck to suck the sewage out of the manhole. But that, she says, is just a temporary fix.

"Just as soon as I call now, they'll send a big truck out. I know most of the guys, Willie and all of them. And they're nice. And they pump it out. But my yard man won't even get near this anymore," said Stark.

The long term answer is a seven hundred thousand dollar sewer line. But the city doesn't have the money.

That means more backed up toilets for Frances Stark, along with the unwanted mess in her yard.

"The city's taken over nothing but a mess. And after 20 years, I've had enough," she exclaimed.

The city's public works director says the long term answer is the new sewer line, but Gulfport doesn't have the money for the project right now.

Chris Riemann says the city is also working on a temporary fix for Mrs. Stark. That involves installing a grinder pump and a separate sewer line from her house, to bypass the back up problem.