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Sanford Residents Say Sewage Problems Have Plagued Them For Years

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SANFORD, N.C. — The Lee County town of Sanford is in trouble with the state because of sewage problems. Sanford homeowners say those problems have plagued them for years.

Cheryl Lancaster, who lives in the historic district of Sanford, said she can smell the toxic gas odors from sewage that seeps into her tub, but that is not all bubbling up through people's pipes.

"Condoms, fecal matter coming out of the manhole," she said.

Last week, Dick Harrison said sewage flooded his home.

"Black mold is already growing on the walls in there that I know of," he said. "I wear gloves and a mask now when I go in and that doesn't help."

Neighbors have petitioned the city for help. They have clipped articles as evidence of the ongoing problems.

"Old lines are the main problem and neglect. I mean it's like buying a car and driving it 400,000 miles and never changing the oil and then saying, 'Oh my gosh, the car messed up.' Well, we've been telling you to change the oil for years," Harrison said.

City officials said they have spent $1 million in the last two years improving the sewer lines. Despite those improvements, the state fined Sanford $18,000 last fall for what it said are chronic sewage spills.

"Well, we sympathize," City Manager Leonard Barefoot said. "A lot of things are being done and have been done."

Ironically, Harrison's house is next to the mayor's house. The mayor said his house also had flooding last week, but that news is no solace for Harrison.

"My wife and my family and I can't live here just from the events that have taken place," he said. "I don't think this house is alive anymore and I don't think it can be brought back to life."

Meanwhile, the state is notifying Sanford that it broke the law by failing to report a sewage overflow within 24 hours, which could mean additional fines for the city.


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