Sewage overflow problem behind West End condo complex will take years to fix

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Posted at 5:45 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 19:41:06-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — People who live in one West End neighborhood report sewage overflows whenever it rains too much.

A manhole behind a condo complex on Long Boulevard regularly overflows with stormwater and raw sewage. Metro is aware of the issue, but the fix will take years.

"The first complaint was in July of last year. It's just been kind of ongoing," said Sarah Pagnani, who lives near the overflow.

The residents of the condo have reported raw sewage, including toilet paper and feces, has flowed up through the manhole and down the alley.

"It backs up there near the apartments, you can see it along the curbs. We have toilet paper in our stairwells and toilet paper and fecal matter in our pump room that we have to get cleaned out every time it rains," she said.

The overflow is caused by a private 18-inch sewer line tied into a Metro line that's just 8 inches.

While Pagnani and others at the complex notice the sewage regularly, she said others don't, and sometimes step in it.

"You'll see people walking dogs through it," she said.

The overflow is a symptom of Nashville's extremely old sewer system. Many lines are many decades old. A spokesperson for Metro Water Services said they've got a billion-dollar plan in place but they won't be able to start fixing problem areas for at least a year. Even then, it will take many more years to fix.

It's not the news Pagnani wanted to hear.

"We have contacted Metro multiple times, the emergency Nashville line through the hub. I sent an email saying I didn't want to escalate it last time," she said.

In the past, the city has seen controversy over the sewer system and how it can sometimes spill raw sewage into area tributaries and the Cumberland River.

An environmental group called Tennessee River Keeper sued the city over the issue.