Septic troubles for Lewisville family

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LEWISVILLE, N.C. -- A Lewisville family says trying to fix a septic system legally has turned into a major headache.

Chris Barber and his wife moved into their home off Shallowford Road in 2009. It was originally built in 1948. The two bedroom, one bathroom house was perfect until their two daughters were born. Now they’d like to sell and find more space.

In March, Barber started to realize selling their home was going to require extra work. He discovered a soft spot in their back yard and assumed a septic pipe was leaking.

“I called a few septic places; one guy came out and said he could fix it. The others said you have to go through the county,” Barber explained.

Wishing to pursue the fix legally, Barber paid for county inspections and evaluations of the system.

But it wasn't good news. The county can’t issue a permit for the septic repairs on the Barber's property because the home is situated on "unsuitable soil."

Brock Turner, Water and Wastewater supervisor for the Forsyth County Department of Public Health explained, "There are soils out there that are mixed mineralogy, which is what this property has, and it doesn't allow water to move through it very easily."

A septic system on such soil is a public health hazard, according to the law.

Turner said they checked the entire property front to back and there is no legally suitable soil for a septic system. The current one should not have been installed decades ago and they won't issue a permit for the Barbers to repair it.

"Our hands are tied by the rules we have to enforce today," Turner added.

Barber said they are in the appeals process.

"We can't do laundry on site so we've been spending a lot of quarters down at the laundry mat," Barber said.

"My advice to anybody would be: pay the money when you get your home inspection, before you buy a property, have the soil checked," Barber added.

Lewisville Mayor Dan Pugh says they formed a committee recently to evaluate how to extend sewage the most needed part of town. The Barbers' situation is not common, he said, but they are not the only ones in this situation.

"Ultimately we will have sewer in that area, but it may be too late for his current situation," Pugh pointed out.

The Barbers are exploring other options through local and state agencies, but worry they might end up spending thousands of dollars.

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