Family blames City of Greenwood for sewage backups in basement

Records show IDEM found violations in 2017

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind.--    A Johnson County family is dealing with a situation that really stinks.

David and Huong Antonios have lived in the Hunter’s Pointe subdivision since 2012, and they’re fed up with their basement flooding with sewage.

“It smells disgusting,” said David Antonios. “It’s all your neighbor’s sewage. You know your neighbors, but do you really want to know your neighbors?”

They’re new parents to a baby boy and want to be able to use their basement, which is approximately half of their ranch home.

“We often can’t use our basement and we use it every day,” said Huong Antonios. “We play games and watch TV and it’s really hard not using half the house because it’s flooded.  I think it’s really awful.”

David Antonios said they are not in a floodplain, and have lost their homeowners insurance after filing several claims.

The couple has spent $40,000 fixing the damage from 2015 and 2017 sewage incidents, including replacing carpet, furniture and baseboards.

Call 6 Investigates spoke with other neighbors in Hunter’s Pointe who said they’ve had similar problems with sewage water in their basements.

Although Antonios is located in unincorporated Johnson County, he said the City of Greenwood provides sanitary sewer service to his home and neighborhood.

Antonios filed a complaint with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

IDEM conducted an inspection in October 2017 and cited the City of Greenwood with several violations, including not properly mitigating bypass/overflow, which is a violation of a 2012 compliance plan.

IDEM also cited the city for not reporting or recording all collection system and basement overflow incidents.

IDEM also found the City of Greenwood was behind on its 2012 compliance plan and did not have a process in place for citizens to routinely report basement backups and overflows.

“IDEM staff spent several days investigating Mr. Antonios’ complaints and the staff was able to confirm that the collection system is frequently hydraulically overloaded and lift stations are stressed to keep up with wet weather flow,” read the IDEM inspection report.

Call 6 Investigates contacted the Greenwood mayor’s office and the sanitation department for comment.

RTV6 received a response from the city’s corporation counsel Samuel Hodson, who directed us to the city’s updated compliance plan.

“The City responded promptly to the IDEM report and IDEM accepted the remedies the City proposed,” said Hodson. “The City is aware of the Antonios allegations.  Mr. Antonios presented them to the City’s insurance carrier.  The carrier completed an investigation and denied his claim.” 
Hodson declined to be interviewed on camera about the sewage situation.

The city is working on a $60 million sewer improvement project that involves installing 10 miles of new sewer pipeline and removing 10 aging lift stations.

As part of its compliance plan, the City of Greenwood is expected to start construction on the project this year and wrap in 2020.
Also part of the city’s plan includes pipe relining and replacement, public outreach and education on illicit inflows, implementing two-tiered rates or credits for compliant homes, and visually inspecting all manholes.

See a map of the project here.

David Antonios lives by a lift station, one he says is failing and causing the sewage to back up.

He’s asking the city to cover an $8600 permanent fix to his home.

Antonios also wants the City of Greenwood to step up their sewer improvement efforts, and for IDEM to hold them accountable.

“My standing now is to make this public so everybody knows if you’ve been flooded by sewage from the City of Greenwood, you have rights,” said Antonios. “The city had a compliance plan in 2012 and they failed that horribly.”

Antonios filed a tort claim to try to get the city to pay for the damage to the home, but the city denied the claim.

“We find no evidence the City of Greenwood directly caused a restriction in the sanitary sewer system which led to your loss event, nor had notice of an immediate hazard to address in your area prior to the loss event,” read the denial letter from the city’s insurance carrier. “Stormwater and drainage in your area are regulated by Johnson County, not the City of Greenwood.”

Johnson County Commissioner Ron West told Call 6 Investigates Johnson County is not in charge of the sewage in Antonios’ neighborhood.

“He lives in the unincorporated area of the County, however regarding his issue, the City of Greenwood is the responsible party,” said West. 

As for Antonios, he can’t move to get away from the situation.

"I can't sell my home if i want to because I have to disclose that the city floods my basement with sewage,” said Antonios.  “there’s no excuse for my basement to ever flood with sewage or to ever flood.”

IDEM spokesperson Brady Hagerty said the state is monitoring the City of Greenwood’s progress on their approved action plan.

RELATED | Health department cites apartment complex for raw sewage problem

“They are considered in compliance as long as they follow their approved action plan and provide IDEM with periodic status updates,” said Hagerty.

On January 15, 2018, the City of Greenwood submitted their plan to address the violations that occurred. 

IDEM approved the plan on January 19, 2018.

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