Sewer Project Sends Two Feet of Sewage Into Home

By: Tony Tagliavia Email
By: Tony Tagliavia Email

"This is the beginning of the sewage," Carol Opleger said, pointing to a picture of what she estimates was two feet of sewage in her basement.

"There was so much in there that it took two loads, over two days [with] two tankers," she said.

Opleger paid $500 to pump it all out after she smelled it and traced it to her basement during sewer work along her street in Lansing's Old Town last May.

"Here it is a year later and nothing's been done," she said.

And it's not for lack of trying on Opleger's part. When she first noticed the sewage, she ran out and told the workers on her street.

Eventually she called a city inspector.

"And he said, wait a minute, wait and minute and he stopped all construction," Opleger said.

Along with personal possessions, she lost her furnace and water heater because of the sewage. Since it apparently came into her home because of a city project, she asked the city to pay to replace them.

"They sent me the forms," Opleger said. "I filled them all out. [I] provided them with pictures."

After she sent the paperwork to city hall she was told that because a contractor and not the city was working on her street, she should talk to the company.

Opleger did get in touch with the contractor. It's part of the MacKenzie Companies, headquartered just outside Grand Ledge in Oneida Township.

A company spokesman tells us MacKenzie has no way of disputing its responsibility, so the company eventually forwarded the matter to its environmental insurance company.

But that happened only after Opleger hired an attorney. And early this year, that attorney got an offer for a settlement.

"They're offering a small fraction of the costs to repair or replace any of the problems that have been listed," said the attorney, Carolyn Bovee.

The MacKenzie spokesman says the offer includes enough to clean the basement and some money to help with a furnace.

But Opleger says it's not enough.

"I didn't have anything to do with this," she said. "Why should I have to pay for it?"

Now she's sent another letter to the city asking for help. She says she doesn't care who pays -- she just wants her basement cleaned up and what she's lost replaced.


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