Raw Sewage In Petersburg Home

By Craig Richards, LNNUSA.com


PETERSBURG – On the 1500 block of North Sycamore Street raw sewage is backing up onto the sidewalk. But that is not the most dangerous threat to individual health. One local resident had been experiencing Petersburg sewage backing up into her home.


LNN USA sat down with 82-year-old homeowner Bertha Moss and her son Wendell Moss to discuss the series of events that had been plaguing their home safety. Wendell Moss said the issue first began when the toilet backed up in January. Shortly following the initial back-up, the sewage made its way to the tub.


“It very frustrating, horrible,” Bertha Moss said. She explained that it is extremely difficult “being able to function as an elderly person” while dealing with this mess. She and her son felt that the sewage was a threat to her health.


Her son was equally frustrated with the lack of support he was receiving in solving the problem. “Every election term they want to knock on the door and put a sign in the yard,” he said. He explained that the family has always been very supportive of their elected officials over the past 46 years. And now he expected more support and certainly more urgency to help his mother out.


In January Moss called Roto Router who initially fixed the problem when they snaked out the line. Two weeks later and the problem returned. This time Roto Router ran a camera through the line and determined the problem was seventy-one feet from the property.


Then Wendell Moss approached the water department on February 26th where he said he was told it was a residential issue and not a city responsibility. Unable to resolve the issue with city hall, he reached out to the Ward Councilor John Hart on March 8th. Wendell said that got no results.


It was then he called 12 on your Side and Diane Walker began investigating the story. The television station reported that Petersburg utilities said they met twice with Wendell and agreed to come out a third time with the news crew.


While there the city crew used a green dye to trace the sewage issue. At the time Wendell said the blockage had apparently cleared. But within a week the issue returned as before.

According to the 12 report, the city said it wasn’t the first time a similar issue had happened on the street. That homeowner had paid the city to come in and install a new connection to the sewer main. From there the city took responsibility for the extension from the main to the home.


But that was not an option for the Moss family as a new connection could cost upwards of $4,000 to install. On April 9, 2021 Bertha Moss received a bill from the City of Petersburg for $3,026.18 to repair and replace the connection between the house and the main sewer line. Wendell Moss explained that the television station’s hands on efforts to help the family resulted in raising funds to pay for the repair. 


During her April 20th report, Councilor Treska Wilson-Smith brought up the issue during the council meeting. She said she had recently become aware of the situation from the report on Channel 12. She asked why if it was reported in February that it was still not resolved in April. She said she was informed that the City waited as proposed in a 1981 ordinance. Wilson-Smith said she wanted a protocol put in place to take immediate action for such issues. “I think that’s really bad. Makes us look like we don’t care,” Wilson-Smith said.

It is unclear if that discussion or monies raised from the efforts of 12 on Your Side prompted action. But action did take place. Wendell Moss had told LNN USA that city crews had been on the property and in the street the morning of our interview, Friday April 23rd. During the interview he tested the toilet and reported that the issue had apparently been fixed.


As of today, mainly through the efforts of 12 on Your Side and Wendell’s persistence in resolving the problem for his mother, the nuisance and possible potential health crisis for Bertha Moss has been resolved. But no clear-cut action plan has been established from the city to avoid such delays to residents in possible future cases such as this.


MEMBERSHIP BONUS: LNN USA members will receive a copy of the bill sent to the Moss family from the city in the weekly LNN Insider report. To support LNN USA and receive additional news, articles, editorials, and special reports go to the subscribe page at LNNUSA.com for details.

City Slow to Act

Work recently completed outside of the Moss family home in Petersburg