By Mary O’KEEFE
A large piece of wood that had been apparently thrown into a sewer pipe caused a backup in the 5300 block of Pineridge Drive Tuesday morning affecting at least three homes in the area and causing a pungent smell that was carried by the high winds throughout the neighborhood.
“It started coming in about 8 this morning,” said resident Annaliese Taylor of the wastewater.
The sewage/waste water flowed into the Taylors’ bathroom, filling the bathtub and spilling onto the tiled floor. It then seeped down the hardwood floor hallway and soaked into the bedroom carpeting and second bathroom. Taylor attempted to contact the Crescenta Valley Water District but the office was closed and she had to leave a message.
“The stuff just kept coming in so we called the [Los Angeles County] fire department,” she said.
“We were contacted about 9:39 this morning by the fire department,” said Christy Scott, spokeswoman for CVWD. Crews were sent out immediately and began to assess the problem and clean and disinfect the street.
About 500 gallons of wastewater had been suctioned out of the drainpipe and the road had been disinfected with bleach by CVWD crews. Pineridge Road is lined by K-rails and sandbags in preparation for the mudflow/floods. CVWD crews continued to work throughout the day.
“All the sandbags that had lined the street were replaced because they had been contaminated,” Scott said.
At first Scott said they were uncertain of what caused the blockage. Last week crews responded to a small backup from a wastewater drain that was caused by debris from the mud flow that occurred weeks prior. Mud and small debris can enter the drains through the openings in the manhole covers. That spill was taken care of by CVWD crews and no homes were involved.
Crews worked throughout Tuesday and discovered the real cause of the blockage.
“Someone had thrown a large piece of wood, larger than a baseball bat, into the sewer,” Scott said.
She added it appeared to be an act of vandalism because the large branch could not have made it into the drain unless someone removed the weighted manhole cover and placed it in the drain.
“We will be making a police report,” Scott said.
The interiors of three Pineridge homes had damage but the Taylors’ home got the worst of it.
CVWD General Manager Dennis Erdman and Scott visited the three homes and also spoke with concerned neighbors. On Wednesday morning they contacted home owners to inform them of the cause of the blockage.
The Taylors called Clean Nest, a Tujunga cleaning company, and their insurance company. The cleaning crew removed affected items from the home and swept, mopped and vacuumed.
“[Wastewater] even went outside the house,” Taylor said. She pointed to the side patio that was also covered in debris.
“I had to sweep this to the side, but that stuff has now soaked into our yard,” she said. Crews continued to clean the Taylor home and CVWD will continue to monitor sewer/wastewater drains.