Vancleave Neighbors Still Face Sewage Frustrations

Vancleave residents in Big Hill Acres are still facing frustrations about failing septic tank systems. This week the developers of the subdivision off Jim Ramsay Road were indicted on charges of violating the Clean Water Act, by allowing the development and installation of septic tanks in wetlands.

Health department officials once described Big Hill Acres in Vancleave as, "one of the largest health risks in the state".

Failing septic tank systems caused the health concerns.

Many of the neighbors in Big Hill Acres swap stories about raw sewage overflowing in their yards, water that's unfit to drink and septic tank systems that repeatedly fail. They take some satisfaction in this week's federal indictment. But they know the criminal prosecution won't fix the problems they're still facing.

Venita Pelegrin's children love playing outdoors. But they know the biggest part of their spacious backyard is off limits. A pond of sewage isn't far from the swing set.

"It's hard. When you have four little kids they're wanting to play. We can't use this part of our yard whatsoever because of the sewage. It stinks. All the time," said Pelegrin.

She says the whole Big Hill Acres development situation stinks. The indictment says developers who sold parcels of land from this sales office "made representations they knew to be false, that the lots were suitable for habitation when they were not".

"Very frustrating. No one wants to touch the situation. No one wants to help. No one. Everybody is scared because of who he is, so it's been very frustrating," Pelegrin said.

There are similar stories throughout the 26 hundred acre development.

"I just wish we would have known about it before we moved out here. 'Cause we're trying to sell and we can't even sell it," said Christina Chastain.

She never knew about the faulty septic tank when her family moved in five years ago. Problems with the water well have added to the family's frustrations.

"We have orange water. Our tubs are orange. I mean the dirt comes through our pipes. Out into the tub. We can't drink the water," she explained.

Venita Pelegrin says she and her neighbors take some satisfaction with the indictment against those believed responsible for the problem. But she says that criminal prosecution doesn't do anything to eliminate the ongoing septic tank troubles.

"Yeah, I'd like to see him punished for what he did. But we're all still stuck out here. With this," she said.

Not everyone in Big Hill Acres faces the same problems. WLOX News talked with one home owner who says her water is crystal clear and she's not had the first problem with her septic tank.

But there are many others not so lucky; who've been complaining about failing septic tanks for years.