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Second state agency seeking action against Cortland mobile home park owner for sewage dumping

Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 11:08 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 11:43 a.m. CDT
Katie Dahlstrom - kdahlstrom@shawmedia.com The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Envrionmental Protection Agency are investigating this tank and hose system that has been pumping sewage from the Cortland mobile home park onto the ground for weeks.

CORTLAND – Two state regulatory agencies are seeking legal action against the company that owns the Cortland MHC mobile home park because of raw sewage being dumped onto the ground for weeks.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has joined the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in asking the Illinois Attorney General to take action against park owner Zeman Homes for dumping raw sewage, which affected a neighboring cemetery and veterinary office. The park is at 300 S. Somonauk Road, outside the town of Cortland, north of the intersection of Somonauk Road and Route 38.

IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said the agency this week asked the attorney general’s office to pursue legal action against the park owners and operators for violating the Illinois Private Sewage Disposal Code, which prohibits the discharge of raw or improperly treated sewage onto the ground.

Zeman CEO Dee Pizer and local management did not return requests for comment Wednesday.

According to the IDPH, the agency that licenses mobile home communities, the Cortland park was licensed in May 2013 and had not been cited for violations before.

The Illinois EPA last week asked the attorney general’s office to order the owners of the park to immediately clean up untreated sewage and repair the septic system to prevent future environmental violations.

Scott Mulford, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, did not know when the actions would be addressed in court or how long the process would take for the matter to be resolved.

“The matter has been referred to attorneys in our environmental services bureau,” Mulford said.

The IDPH also has the ability to suspend or revoke the park’s license, avenues Arnold said the agency is not pursuing while the attorney general’s office addresses the enforcement action.

The DeKalb County Health Department received an anonymous tip March 21 that raw sewage was leaking into the Mound Rest Cemetery, which sits east of the park. The property is bordered by Route 38 to the south and the Cortland Animal Hospital to the west.

Local health department officials said they found a large tank with a system that was pumping raw sewage from a backed-up septic tank onto the ground. DeKalb County Health Department officials said the system dumped several thousand gallons of sewage onto the ground.

Results from a sample taken from the site by an IEPA inspector last week were not available Wednesday.

As state officials consider legal action against Zeman Homes, residents of the park said they were unaware of anything unusual.

Terry Scott, who lives about a block from where the sewage was being dumped, said he’s complained about sewer problems and the smell of sewage for years. The sewage smell he noticed in the park this winter didn’t raise any new concerns because it’s common in the community, he said.

“I had no idea,” Scott said. “No one tells us anything. I really hope they do something about this place.”

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