Affordable dream homes in Jackson County have turned into messy nightmares, thanks to failing septic tank systems.
Residents of Ocean Beach Estates continue to face problems with toilets that won't flush and raw sewage that backs up into houses.
It's an ongoing problem that involves the Health Department, Jackson County government and local building contractors.
Neighbors on Peach Street swap stories about sewage. They try to keep a sense of humor about it, but the aggravation and expense of failing septic tank systems is pushing their patience. Residents are looking for answers and finding only frustration.
"Our problem started when we started having standing water, septic water, on the side of the house," said Brian Clark, as he explained the years old sewage problem.
Neighbors in Ocean Beach Estates understand the agony of a backed up septic tank. Water in the ditches is evidence of the poor drainage here, the culprit that's causing the septic systems to fail. But the standing water isn't nearly as bad as a flooded septic tank system.
"It's been as bad as where we haven't been able to take our own showers or flush toilets for up to a week. We had to go to my mother's house to take showers because there's human waste and toilet paper in the bathtub that stays," said Jackie Warrick.
Brian Clark says various government leaders and health department officials have visited the neighborhood to inspect the problems.
"You know, they all come out here and tell us how bad we have it. But nobody wants to do anything about it. No one really cares. They just, oh that's too bad for you. That's a shame. And it's all a big scramble. To get the monkey off of their back," said Clark.
Mounds of dirt and sand now cover the back yards of Peach Street neighbors. It's the latest effort to get a septic system that works. The systems are working, for now.
"What happens in a year if this fails? What do we do then? We're just stuck. We still just owe the amount of money we owe on the house and it's still just a piece of land we'll own forever," Clark said.
Little has changed since WLOX News first reported on the septic tank troubles in Ocean Beach Estates four years ago. Back then we said the ultimate solution would be connecting the homes to a central sewage system. That remains the most sensible answer, but it still may be several years away.
"It's not guaranteed. If it happens, it would be several years from the time they got the okay," said Warrick.
Supervisor John McKay says the problem is money. Providing central sewer to Ocean Beach Estates would cost millions of dollars, money the county doesn't have right now.
Some have called for a building moratorium in that area to prevent future septic tank failures. Supervisor McKay told me the county may have to seriously consider some sort of building restrictions.