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Vernon sewer spill leaves a mess at Sandy Beach

Residents left to clean up the city’s mess and potential long-term effects

He was just trying to enjoy his birthday, chilling at home watching TV, when it went to down the drain.

A resident of Sandy Beach Trailer Park smelled something awful Saturday, July 10, around 10 a.m. He opened the door to investigate and immediately started gagging. His entire lawn, driveway and the road was filled with brown, murky water.

“It was a river. Hundreds and hundreds of gallons, right through my yard,” said the man who asked his name to be withheld. “On my lawn right now are noodles, toilet paper.”

A sewer force main break on Tronson Road saw 2,000-3,000 litres of sewage leak into the private property.

“Four or five houses got it bad,” said the birthday boy, noting a senior woman behind him couldn’t even leave her house. As for him, the stench was so bad he had to get a hotel.

While the park landlord hired pump trucks to suck up as much as they could, a majority of it seeped into the grounds, under the trailers, into gravel driveways, gardens and lawns.

It left residents wondering where the City of Vernon was to clean up the mess.

“I’m just left with it. Where’s your hazmat team to clean it up?”

The city confirmed that the leak included sewage and greywater, both of which go into the same underground sewer utility system and then to the Vernon Water Reclamation Centre.

Tronson Road was closed to traffic between Lakeshore and Scott roads for the day while crews repaired the break. There was also a water service interruption in the area.

“In the event of sewer or water line failure, the city is not liable for damage to private property that may result from the line break,” communications manager Christy Poirier said. “Generally speaking, damage caused by a break in a sanitary sewer line or water main is covered by basic homeowner insurance.”

But the Sandy Beach resident’s insurance company has told him otherwise.

In the meantime, he has tried to neutralize the unbearable stench with a car-load of lime. But he wonders what the longer-term effects may be.

“It’s going to seep in and the next time it rains it’s going to slowly creep towards the beach. It’s going to go into our well.”

With a major surgery booked for Friday, he is also concerned about his recovery in the “cesspool.”

“There’s going to be a lot of bacteria floating around.”

READ MORE: Vernon, Coldstream tightens taps on water use

READ MORE: Evacuation alert lifted for Vernon area residents


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Sandy Beach Trailer Park residents aren’t impressed with the mess left behind from a sewer main break that sent contents flowing through their yard July 10. (Contributed)
A brown stream flows through Sandy River Trailer Park Saturday, July 10 after a sewage main break on Tronson Road. (Contributed)

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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