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March  15,  2011

Sewer disconnects will be
painless, residents are told

County officials sought to reassure residents of Green Acres that they have nothing to worry about as a result of their community having been selected as the locus for a pilot project to reduce the amount of 'clearwater' in sanitary sewers.

Speaking in a folksy manner at a meeting of the civic association, Jonathan Husband, who is directing the project for the Department of Special Services, said "there is no penalty involved" if an illegal connection is discovered. He emphasized that homeowners will be reimbursed the cost of removing the connection. "Not everybody in the county will get reimbursement" after the project is expanded to include all of Brandywine Hundred and, eventually, the entire county, Gregg Wilson, acting chief administrative officer, added. Reimbursement is capped at $1,050, but Husband indicated that the actual cost should be well under that ceiling whether the work is done by the homeowner or a licensed plumber.

Responding to what appeared to be the main concern among the 50 or so residents at the meeting on Mar. 14 that they will be obliged to undertake the considerably more expensive removal of illegal underground sewer connections from so-called 'French drains' installed by the builder, Husband said the pilot project involves only basement sump pumps and downspouts. He said inspectors will "just make a note" of illegal punctures in sewer pipes to accommodate the drains, but stopped short of saying that those would not be included when the pilot project is scaled up in the future. Green Acres was developed in the early 1950s when 'French drains' were a common way to protect houses from water.

Rich Mical, its president, said the civic association will "try to line up plumbers" willing to wait to be paid until the county reimbursement comes through. Husband said that would be within 30 days after the work is approved by a subsequent inspection and the homeowner submits receipts.

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