McHENRY – Homeowners in a rural McHenry subdivision are dealing with soggy basements in the aftermath of a water line break that flooded the neighborhood with sulfur-smelling water, several residents say.
The line was repaired Saturday morning, nine days after the leak started. Homeowners in the area said the long wait time is the latest evidence of neglect from the subdivision’s water service, Nunda Utility Co. – a claim the company denies.
“It’s gushing like a fountain out of the ground,” said Leonard Sikora, who lives in the neighborhood. “The water smells like hell – that sulfur smell, like rotten eggs. And there’s no response from the water company.”
Sikora, who has previously taken Nunda Utility to court, said the most recent issue has caused poor water pressure in his house and covered the neighborhood with ice and water.
Pat Stahl, of Nunda Utility management, denied that the issue had caused water pressure problems and said the complaints were from a single man who has a history of butting heads with the company.
She said the break wasn’t to a water main but to an individual home’s service line, which wouldn’t cause water pressure issues throughout the neighborhood. She added that the company had been delayed in fixing the line because of the cold weather.
“There aren’t many contractors that have their backhoes working,” she said. “It took a while to find one.”
But those in the neighborhood said they’ve grown tired of the company’s lack of service.
Laura Schneider, who lives two houses from the leak, said her basement is flooded with about an inch of standing water. It’s the latest, but not the first, of her water-related troubles, she said.
“Our water, a majority of the time it starts smelling like eggs,” Schneider said. “That’s just a little thing to us because we’re used to having water mains break all the time, and it’s taking weeks [for the water company] to come out.”
She said that typically after a break, the company won’t respond until the neighborhood bands together and pesters them with calls. Last week – when temperatures were milder – would have offered a perfect time to fix the line, Schneider added.
“Why didn’t they come out knowing it would be subzero this week?” she said.
Schneider’s neighbor, Tyfani Longmeyer, is also frustrated with a lack of attention from Nunda Utility and similarly dealing with standing water.
“The water in general smells, but once it’s in the basement, it’s even worse,” she said.
The neighborhood’s water was shut off Saturday morning while crews worked to fix the problem. They had completed the job by about 1:30 p.m., Stahl said.
Until water samples come back clear, the neighborhood remains on a boil order. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has been in touch with the water company and said it was monitoring the situation.
IEPA Spokeswoman Kim Biggs said the agency wouldn’t step in unless there was a significant issue with water pressure.
“As long as we are maintaining pressure, our role doesn’t take effect there,” Biggs said. “It’s just the water company’s responsibility to get the main repaired.”
Schneider and Sikora said they called all over – including the IEPA and McHenry County Health Department – and made them aware of the issues.
“We’re up against a brick wall and we don’t know what to do,” Sikora said.
Sikora and others are skeptical that the company will improve its dealings in the future.
Stahl denied that the company had caused any ongoing problems. She maintained the leak was an isolated incident spurred by the cold.
“There have not been any on and off issues,” she said. “We are in very good standing with the Illinois EPA and the Illinois Commerce Commission. We don’t have any problems with them.”