John and Becky Scheid moved to Mead to get closer to nature. They didn’t expect nature to return affections.
But ever since the treed hillside above the Scheids’ home was clear-cut last summer, tons of mud have washed into their basement with each heavy rain or snow melt.
“I’m the fish in the bottom of the bowl and I’m swimming for my life,” said John Scheid, a surgical technician at Deaconess Medical Center. “And every inch of snow makes it worse.”
Buried in the hillside is a new sewer pipeline connecting homes along Highway 395 with the Whitworth sewage pumping station.
In the process of laying the pipe last summer, a construction company hired by the county felled the trees and razed vegetation on the hill while also increasing the grade of the hill. The hill was raised to give the pipe a downhill slope to the pumping station.
The construction created a natural bowl that funnels runoff directly to the Scheid’s basement window.
The couple is prepared for flooding that is inevitable with melting snow. The window is sandbagged and furniture and boxes have been removed from their unfinished basement, but the necessity of such measures frustrates Scheid.
“When you see the burden of all this, it really hits you in the face,” said John Scheid. “They brought all this on us, and we want to see it fixed right.”
After the first round of flooding in December, Scheid called the county sewer department, told them of his problem, and was referred to Eller Construction Co., which did the excavation. Eller referred Scheid back to the county.
Frustrated, Scheid is now waiting for the snow to melt before filing a claim.
Claude Cox, risk manager of the county, said the sewer construction has caused drainage problems with other homes in the area, and those have been fixed. He said responsiblity for the problem cannot be fixed until inspectors see the problem, which he says would be difficult with a foot of snow on the ground.
“If there is a problem, you should let us know what the problem is before it gets worse,” said Cox.
Scheid said he would not be satisfied until the runoff path was diverted away from his house - something that would require significant construction.
In the meantime, the rural, wooded landscape for which the Scheids moved to their $180,000 home three years ago is gone. “We moved here so nobody would build behind us,” said Scheid, looking out his dining room window to the bald hill that caps the sewer pipeline. “It looks like nobody is.”
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