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Couple can breathe easier with city picking up bill

Sewer backup from city main caused horrendous stench

March 24, 2009

Matt Wojtecki first noticed a foul odor emanating from the basement of his St. Francis home March 3.

"I figured this had to be somehow related to all of the water that was coming into my (sump pump) well from the melting snow and rain," he said in a letter to the city. "I opened a few windows in the basement to let some fresh air in and this seemed to alleviate the problem."

But the smell lingered. By March 7, the effluvium turned into a horrendous stench.

"To give you an idea of how bad the smell was, I turned off my heat and opened up 10 windows," he wrote. "People could even notice the odor outside before even entering my house. I even called my wife and told her not to plan on coming home anytime soon because the smell was so bad."

After further inspection, it was revealed that Wojtecki's sewer was almost completely backed up. At that point, he called a private plumbing service to fix the problem, which determined that it was caused by congestion in the city's sewer main.

Wojtecki called the St. Francis Police Department to report the city's sewer main was backed up. About 30 minutes later, city Highway Department crews arrived to clear the obstruction.

"Once this was done, the water level in the drain in my basement floor immediately receded," he wrote.

The odor began to vanish, but it was noticeable for the next couple of days, he wrote.

Although the problem was resolved, Wojtecki, 3034 E. Koenig Ave., was stuck with a $323 bill from the plumbing company.

The Common Council voted unanimously March 17 to pay for Wojtecki's bill.

"My personal feeling is that the guy isn't trying to charge anymore than what it cost for the Mr. Rooter service, I say pay him $322.64," Alderman Donald Brickner said.

Chantel Balzell can be reached at (262) 446-6602.

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