San Francisco

Residents Worry Storm Will Reignite San Francisco Sewage Problem

Neighbors in one San Francisco neighborhood are worried this week's storm will reignite an ongoing sewage problem in the city.

Several San Francisco homeowners filed a lawsuit in September against the city, demanding thousands of dollars they have spent in repairs due to sewage flooding be reimbursed. Residents like Chris Tilton, who lives on Cayuga Street, have grown frustrated after the city has not followed up on promises to fix its sewage system.

"Basically some hollow promises, but no action," Tilton said. "No real plan."

Tilton said his neighborhood has a problem even with moderate rainfall. When it rains the runoff drains into the sewage system. Tilton said sometimes the sewage backs up onto the street.

The neighborhood saw the worst of it last December when the manhole turned into a volcano, spewing sewage everywhere. It was six feet deep in some places and the city spent a month cleaning the area.

The lawsuit filed by residents was amended Wednesday to force San Francisco to deny any new housing sewage hookups until the city's sewage system is fixed.

"Well you know we're all fed up with it," resident Victoria Sanchez said.

San Francisco has offered $30,000 in reimbursements to homeowners who need upgrades to keep water and sewage out due to flooding, according to the Public Utilities Commission.

"We know that we can only design a system to such a certain degree and then above that it's like an earthquake scale," said Jean Walsh, SFPUC spokeswoman. "You design a building to withstand an earthquake of a certain magnitude, but once you get over that it's going to fall down."

The PUC also said workers clean the drains anytime it rains heavily -- a claim Tilton disputes.

"What's happening is it's just a pure sewer failure problem," Tilton said. "The sewer can't even handle a moderate storm."

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