Nfld. & Labrador

C.B.S. family at wit's end with drainage problem, takes town to court

In documents filed in Supreme Court, the Town of Conception Bay South says the couple "inherited" the water issue.

In court documents, Town of C.B.S. says homeowners 'inherited' the water issue

Michelle Dyke says she feels trapped in a home that has consistent water and sewage drainage problems, and blames the Town of Conception Bay South. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Outside the Dyke family home in Conception Bay South there is a strong smell of sewage, and an occasional gurgle can be heard under the wooden deck where the septic tank sits.

"This sludge and whatever else is gurgling and bubbling there, that continues to my back doorstep," Michelle Dyke said Friday.

Dyke and her husband filed an originating application with the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in September 2018 to claim compensation for ongoing water issues.

Dyke said she's emotionally drained from fighting the town over what she said are continuous water drainage problems that have cost the family $30,000.

The town, meanwhile, has filed a response in court denying any fault.

When the Dyke family turns on their water inside the home, it backs up and seeps outside, causing the back step to flood. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

"I didn't want this. I didn't want a lawsuit, I didn't want to bring down Mayor [Terry] French's integrity," Dyke said.

"I have to fight for my family. I don't have any other choice."

Dyke said her home has flooded before in the 11 years she's lived on Bairds Lane, but that the situation has been exacerbated by the town redirecting water in 2017 from new properties up the road, causing water to drain toward her home.

"Our distribution field is in jeopardy. It's not working properly. It has nowhere to put this excess water, therefore it floods my septic tank," she said. 

Pointing to a thick, white plastic pipe, Dyke said, "We also installed this catch basin. It holds 1,000 litres of water.… It's actually full now."

When she turns on the water inside her house, it seeps outside and down to the back step of the basement. And if someone takes a shower, it pours.

Videos provided by Dyke show the fresh water backed up so much that the septic cover was floating.

Not our fault, town says

In a court filing, the town said the family inherited the issue and that "unless it is properly rectified by the applicants, the flooding issue would be not remedied."

The town also claims the Dykes have made changes to the property which "likely exacerbated the problem."

It also claimed the family installed undersized and improperly graded drains to try and fix the issue but Dyke said they've done everything they can. 

"Why not continue to fix the full problem? Why direct the water from the top of the street to an existing problem you already knew existed? Do the infrastructure right."

Dyke posted an impassioned Facebook video Thursday outlining the lengthy battle and showing the water issues. 

The response, she said, has been overwhelming, with other people from across the province sharing similar stories.

Even as CBC was at the Dykes' home Friday, a stranger stopped by with a story and a pizza so that the family wouldn't have to use water to do dishes.

"Municipalities have to be held accountable for what they do to their citizens and what they put them through."

Meanwhile, the case is expected in court in November, but it is expected to be postponed. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.

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