Country Acres Trailer Park.
Country Acres Trailer Park.

Archived Story

Health officials assessing septic issues at Niles trailer park

Published 9:19am Thursday, June 12, 2014

Valerie Dircks got an unpleasant surprise when she returned home to her residence at Country Acres Trailer Park in Niles last month.

Sewage had backed up out of her toilet and was covering the floor of the bathroom.

“It was like chocolate pudding all over my bathroom and into my bedroom,” said Dircks. “It’s gross. I’ve got stuff I have to replace.”

According to multiple Country Acres residents and an official from the Berrien County Health Department, the trailer park on Old U.S. 31 has had ongoing problems with its septic system.

“We’ve had complaints,” said Ken Priest, the health department’s manager of environmental health services. “The system is not working anymore.”

Dircks has been living at the trailer park for seven years. She said she has had issues with sewage backing up into her home for the past three years.

“This is the third time it has happened in my bathroom — that my toilet has erupted like a volcano,” she said.

Ron Sallee, a Country Acres resident for seven years, said he too has had problems with the septic system.

“Septic’s backing up all the time. It’s crazy. Three times in two years,” he said. “Water comes up out of the ground — septic waste. It’s black water.

“I’m going to go live with the cows. They smell better.”

Both Sallee and Dircks said attempts to solve the problem in the past were just temporary fixes.

“It’ll work good for a couple months, but it will go any time,” Sallee said.

“They just put a Band-Aid on it and that’s all they do,” Dircks said.

On Wednesday, members of the Berrien County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality were at Country Acres. While none of the officials present at the site would talk, Priest confirmed in a phone interview that the two organizations were there to discuss possible solutions to the septic problem.

A voice message left with the owner of Country Acres Wednesday was not returned.

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