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Spewing sewage the latest in stinky saga for Paradise residents

Jim Clarke lives right behind the sewage lift station in Paradise, N.L., and wants the town to buy him out so he can get away from what he says are constant sewage problems. (Ryan Cooke/CBC)

Jim Clarke has been dealing with sewage spilling onto his Paradise, N.L., property for years, but said the most recent scene is the worst it has ever been.

On Wednesday evening, Clarke and his family went out their front door to see what was going on at the site where town crews are working on sewage lines.

“The new pipes they put in actually busted and sewage was spraying like 30 feet [9.1 metres] in the air,” Clarke said. 

“We went on our front steps to see what was going on, it actually sprayed into our face and all over us, so it’s all over the house, us, and the land.”

A look at Clarke’s lawn Wednesday evening, after sewage started spraying into the air and covering his lawn. (Submitted by Wendy Clark)

Clarke said his family went back inside to clean up, but it should never have been reduced to this.

“It just keeps getting worse.”

He has been living in his home since 2004, and said there have been problems with the town’s sewage system since the first day.

This is the sixth or seven incident, he said, adding his lawn and property were earlier flooded with seeping sewage, as well as untreated waste coming back up through his basement pipes.

“This is the worst time ever, though,” Clarke said.

Earlier this month, the town brought in new equipment to deal with a problem at its largest sewage lift.

The lift station had stopped pushing sewage from the bottom of St. Thomas Line to the top, forcing the town to use trucks to move the sewage down the line, to a point where gravity could take it on to the treatment facility.

It had previously been using eight trucks, 24 hours a day, to pump the sewage storage tanks of a line that connects about 60 per cent of the town.

For Clarke, it’s just the latest in a sewage saga he said has been playing out for years.

“It just keeps getting worse,” he said.

Our property is covered with sewage and toilet paper and everything else.– Jim Clarke

“It smells. We’ve got grandchildren and we can’t let them go out and play in our yard anymore. It’s horrible. We don’t know if we’re gonna get sick or not. It’s an absolutely horrible way to live.”

Clarke said he wants the town to buy him out and use his property for the infrastructure he said they “obviously need.”

And while Clarke said all his interactions with town staff have been positive, nothing’s changed.

“They brag about this being one of the largest, the fastest-growing communities in Atlantic Canada, but yet they don’t do anything to keep up the infrastructure of it.”

CBC has requests in to the town for comment on the latest in the sewage work being done.

By Thursday morning, Clarke said the sewage had seeped into his lawn, so it wasn’t as bad as Wednesday night’s mess.

But it’s still quite a state.

“There’s no buildup now, it’s after sinking into the ground, but our property is covered with sewage and toilet paper and everything else. And it’s been that way for the past three weeks,” he said.

“It’s horrible.”

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