BURLINGTON, N.C.--Margie Watkins smiles almost every time she talks about her home. Built in the 1930’s the old house in Burlington has been through a lot.
Watkins bought the home from the original owner back in 1976, “It was a good deal and my husband wanted to fix up an old house,” said Watkins.
The home has served her well over the years, but lately she has been having some issues with the plumbing, “The sewage started backing up in the tub, then the commode and the sink,” said Watkins.
The issues have been ongoing and have cost Watkins quite a bit in plumbing fees the past few years, “There’s been some big plumbing bills,” said Watkins.
The latest issue started bubbling up a month or so ago. So, like all the times prior Watkins called a plumber to come fix it. The plumber found the blockage but also something he didn't’t expect, neither did Watkins, “I don’t know what to think,” said Watkins.
Connected to Watkins sewage line was a second line coming from the neighbor’s property, “I was extremely upset, I had no earthly idea,” said Watkins.
The line was apparently connected way back in the 1930’s or 40’s and remained like that all these years. WFMY News 2 checked with the city’s Director of Water Resources, “We have no records that go back that far,” said Bob Patterson.
Apparently, a dual connection is unusual, but it does happen, however it’s typically out in the rural areas and not close to the downtown corridor.
What is even more frustrating is that Watkins was told by her plumber and the city she can’t legally cap or disconnect the neighbors sewage line, “We looked to see if there was some mechanism to force separation,” said Patterson.
The only way Watkins can disconnect the lines is if there is a viable option to run a separate line for the neighbors. That’s where things get tricky. The line must run in the back of the house and to do that the city would need extra land.
Watkins wasn't willing to give up a good chunk of her property and the only other option was a small plot owned by another neighbor who was only willing to sell it, “I don’t know what he (owner) is going to do,” said Watkins.
To Watkins surprise, the owner of the house next to her agreed to pay $10,000 for that small patch of land to run a separate sewage line. As of now the line is still connected but Watkins was told a new line will be run soon.
A victory of sorts but one that happened after paying a plumber more than $4,000 to fix a sewage backup that Watkins was told was not her fault.