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Aging septic system could force family from home

Posted May 28, 2009

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— Cumberland County family will have to find a new place to live because its septic tank is leaking sewage into the back yard and they can't afford to fix it.

"It's causing a great deal of pain to our family right now," said Laverne Godrey Jones, who lives in a 40-year-old house in the Bragg Estates neighborhood on the edge of Fort Bragg.

Responding to complaints, the Cumberland County Health Department inspected the tank more than a year ago and deemed it a health hazard.

"There is a high risk of contamination and possibility of a child getting sick from this," said Cumberland County Environmental Health Supervisor Daniel Ortiz.

Ortiz said inspectors warned Jones to fix the problem more than a year ago. After trying to work with her, inspectors finally resorted to court action.

"Either the dwelling must be connected to the public sewage, which would take two years, or (it has to be) vacated immediately," Godfrey Jones said.

The court and county say it’s no longer safe to live there, and the family must be out by June 16.

Godfrey-Jones says they tried pumping the tank, but the county said it wasn't enough.

"And with the economy the way it is, it's hard on us," she said.

Godfrey-Jones's neighbor, who lived two doors down, moved out in 2007 for the same problem. The county is also monitoring two other neighbors for septic tank problems.

Ortiz said it is a common problem in rural areas where older septic tanks are not pumped regularly.

"The best we can hope is that public sewer becomes available for them, and that it doesn't escalate into something else," Ortiz said.

For Godfrey-Jones' family, it is frustrating.

"They didn't give us an option," she said.

Ortiz said the family can move back into the house if Godrey-Jones can set up a regular pumping and hauling contract, or when the home is connected to a sewer system.

Godfrey-Jones is appealing the decision.


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  • davidbh61255 May 29, 2009

    Regular pumping is the key, once every 3 years works for me. My system is over 50 years old!

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM May 29, 2009

    I'm tempted to think there were you know a few signs that their septic tank might have had problems before it was an expensive fix. The damp ground should have been their first sign. Seems to me that a year is plenty long enough to at least save money for repairs, but that whole keeping up with the Jones' gets a lot of people.