The Bloomingtonian

Neighborhood without water before Indiana shutdown begins

By Marci Creps

After a long day at work, Daniel Ponce was ready to go home and get a shower.

As a union carpenter working as a contractor at IU, he’d been pouring concrete all day. When his wife picked him up at 4 p.m., she had some bad news. “As soon as I get into the car, she said your son is texting me right now that there’s stuff going on at the house,” Ponce said.
He learned that the health department had been at the family’s home on Lorelei Way to let residents know the water was being shut off.
In what has been an ongoing problem, Ponce learned that the sewage lift station in the neighborhood was overflowing. The water would be turned off until the problem was solved.
“I was livid,” Ponce said.
While he understands that the overflowing sewage lift station was an issue, he doesn’t understand the remedy. With approximately 25 residences in the neighborhood, Ponce was perplexed.
“At this point in time in history, why would you shut down the water to people?” Ponce asked.
Once he got home, Ponce organized the neighbors, asking for $50 donations or less if that is all someone could afford in order to hire a pumper truck to deal with the issue.
Ponce also called the health department and spoke to Ryan Kasper-Cushman, wastewater sanitarian. Ponce said Cushman was very nice and explained there was sewage on the ground, which is a code violation, and that is why the water was shut off. But Ponce questions if that was the only solution.
If the station needed to be pumped, he wondered why the county couldn’t use one of its trucks to pump it out in order to keep the water running. Instead, the county recommended the neighbors come up with the money to hire someone to pump the system.
Ponce said he and his neighbors received a text message from landlord Matt Cascio who said he had someone coming at 8 a.m. Wednesday to fix the problem. Learning that Cascio planned to fix the problem, Ponce put a stop to his own plans for now.
“I canceled the truck, so it remains to be seen,” Ponce said, unsure if the problem would indeed be solved in the morning.
Ponce isn’t worried about himself. He is worried about his family as well as the neighborhood.
“I’ve got neighbors two units down from me that have infants. I’ve got an elderly father-in-law. My next door neighbor’s got an elderly grandmother who lives with her. She’s probably 85 years old and can barely get around. And they say wash your hands. Be vigilant, and now we don’t have water. Thank you, Monroe County,” Ponce said.
With the restrictions in place due to coronavirus, Ponce has little options for dealing with the lack of water. He and his neighbors are unprepared for a night without water. And with so many businesses shut down, it’s not easy to get to a public bathroom or find a shower – problems more easily solved when restaurants, stores and gyms are open.
This isn’t the first time the neighborhood has dealt with this problem. A few months back, Ponce said the water was shut off for 10 days. During that time, on most evenings, Ponce said Cascio’s son was sent to turn on the water for about 30 minutes, giving residents time to fill buckets and take a quick shower. Ponce said someone didn’t always turn on the water at night, but that happened before the coronavirus shut down.
While he is upset by the current situation, Ponce is most angry at the government.
“Have a heart, guys, during these times,” Ponce said.

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