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City, county point fingers as sewage creates smelly problem for Tampa resident

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Sewage can be a real issue in St. Petersburg, as Tropical Storm Colin recently illustrated.

A blocked pipe, where things get backed up, and people get messy.

On the other side of Tampa Bay, this very same problem is making life difficult – and no doubt smelly – for one Tampa resident.

Janice Albury, 53, owns and operates See Saw Junction, a Hillsborough County day care center located at 8720 N. 40th Street in Tampa.

On four separate occasions between January 2015 and February 2016, sewage and wastewater backed up into the day care. Albury owns both the business and the property on which the day care is built.

Not wanting to get her hands dirty, Albury hired Roto-Rooter to investigate the cause of the problem. The plumbing company found nothing amiss with the pipes on her property, but allegedly identified a blocked pipe just outside the property, maintained by either Hillsborough County or the City of Tampa.

Therein lies the problem.

Armed with this information, Albury contacted the City of Tampa about the leaking sewage.

According to court documents, she received this response: “Based on our investigation it has been determined that this area is maintained by Hillsborough County, and it appears that there was a section of pipe that was directionally bored into the sewer lateral which may have caused debris to accumulate and potentially caused a blockage.”

The city then suggested Albury contact Hillsborough County directly.

Albury did indeed contact Hillsborough County, which also responded – unsurprisingly – that it was Tampa’s problem.

“Our investigation has determined that the area in which your client’s loss occurred is [under] the jurisdiction of the City of Tampa and not Hillsborough County,” County officials wrote. “Please direct your claim for damages to the City of Tampa.”

Frustrated by the failure of either side to take responsibility, Albury filed a lawsuit for negligence against both the city and county. She claims they failed to properly maintain the pipes and water system, which resulted in waste backing up into her property and causing damage.

Albury, in a continuing case, is seeking damages for both legal costs and those associated with repairing the problem.

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