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Sewage from Cortland neighborhood contaminates cemetery

Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 6:42 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 11:46 a.m. CDT

CORTLAND – For about three weeks, raw sewage from the septic system at Cortland Mobile Home Park has been pumped onto the ground and seeped into a nearby cemetery, a county health official said.

Greg Maurice, the director of health protection for the DeKalb County Health Department said his office received an anonymous phone call around 1:30 p.m. Friday that sewage was leaking into the Mound Rest Cemetery.  The cemetery is adjacent to mobile home park, which is located at 300 S. Somonauk Rd. It is outside the town of Cortland’s corporate limits.

When health department officials arrived at the park, they found a system designed to pump sewage out of a septic tank and onto the ground. It had seeped into a nearby ditch and cemetery.

“It was surprising how blatantly they were doing it,” Maurice said. “Most places try to hide it. They just had hoses sticking out [of the tank.]” 

Maurice said a septic tank at the park had backed up because the oversaturated leachtate lines could not expel the liquid from the tanks. Maurice said he also learned the septic system at the park has similar problems annually, but park management usually hires a pumping truck service to keep tanks empty. 

Although residents’ utility services were not affected, the sewage could have contaminated the groundwater in the area, Maurice said. 

“It was allowing the residents to keep flushing their toilets, but it was not the right thing to do,” Maurice said.

The park is run by Chicago-based Zeman Homes, which also runs the Edgebrook mobile home park in Sycamore.

Zeman Homes CEO Dee Pizer did not return requests for comment. Local management declined to comment.

The health department Friday had a pumping tuck come to the park to clear the tank, temporarily alleviating the problem. The truck will come through the weekend until the Illinois Department of Health can start investigate Monday, Maurice said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has oversight of the incident, Maurice said. The IDPH and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency would be the agencies to issue sanctions or enforcement actions if any are warranted, he said.

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