Thursday, October 28, 2010


This sinkhole opened up on the boulevard
The city came out to look at our sinkhole yesterday, or rather the neighbor's sinkhole - thank goodness.  A section of the boulevard has been settling for years.  It's on the end next to the Cat Neighbor's yard, although we always mow that section of the boulevard as well as our own.  My beautiful, carefully tended oak tree (purchased to replace an elm that succumbed to Dutch Elm disease) separates our section of the boulevard from the neighbor's.  Every year we added additional dirt and some grass seed to that piece of ground, until this year when the hole got MUCH deeper.  After each heavy rain it settled even more, and we kept waiting for the neighbor to do something about it.

As the sinkhole got deeper, I started worrying that someone would step in it and break an ankle.  The hole was at least a foot deep, but because of the grass and falling leaves it was not very obvious, and was next to the neighbor's sidewalk.  I finally asked Ron to put a stake and flag in that spot and I would call the city.  But who?  The Department Of Sinkholes?  I found an email address on the city's website, explained the problem and got a prompt response that it would be routed to the Street Maintenance people.  A week later someone from the city came out and spayed the white circle around the hole and added another flag.  They also painted a white spot in the middle of the street and one on the neighbor's sidewalk, presumably to show the location of some sort of pipe.  We were VERY relieved that it went in the neighbor's house, and that the line ran off to the side of my oak tree.  One of the reasons I had reported the problem was my concern for the tree.

Yesterday a man from the city came out again.  Ron saw the city truck, and the neighbor's partner go out to talk with the city employee. Ron joined them (out of curiosity) and heard the unfortunate (for the neighbor) news.   Although the city had to do some kind of a smoke test to confirm the break in the sewer line, it was the neighbor's responsibility to have it repaired.  Ugh.  That would include digging up and replacing as much of the pipe as was necessary.  Even though the boulevard is city property, the water and sewer pipes are the responsibility of the householders.  Ron observed that the other person was NOT happy about this.

Apparently, the break was allowing the dirt to wash into the pipe, which was why it why the ground was settling.  It was probably getting worse because the tree roots were growing into the hole.  The neighbor has no option and has to have it repaired/replaced.  He also mentioned that rats can get into the pipe and enter the house that way.  I've always heard the stories of rats in the toilets - apparently that is a possibility.  Wow.
The city employee also said the the City Arborist would come out to check on the tree, as the boulevard trees are a valuable resource and need to be protected.  I was most relieved to hear that!

So, I will stay out of the neighbor's way in case she decides to lash out at me.  She should have reported the problem herself, but I was the one who finally did it.  Am sure this will be an expensive project.   Also a messy one, so hopefully they will get this done before winter settles in.  This happened once before, over 30 years ago, on that same sewer line and it was a real mess. 

Ah, the joys of home ownership!  I'm waiting for someone from Pella to give me an estimate on a new patio door.  Not an inexpensive project, but probably a lot less than digging and replacing a sewer pipe!

No comments: