The long-awaited end to the sewer saga

I’m celebrating this Independence Day by flushing the toilet.

This is no commentary on the state of our country. It’s elation that my house is, at long last, connected to the city’s sewer.

Longtime readers of this blog might remember that about four years ago the city sent me a letter that said they would lay sewer lines in my neighborhood and that I’d be required to connect at my cost.

When my house was built, it was outside the Indianapolis city limits. So every home in my subdivision got a well and a septic system. But then in 1970 the city annexed the whole county. Time passed. The septic systems in the annexed subdivisions grew old. Some of them failed. Many of them leached into the ground water. So the city decided to extend sewer everywhere. It’s been an enormous project that has had streets torn up all over my part of town for years now.

After I got over the initial cost shock, I realized that this would be dramatically less expensive than replacing my more-than-40-year-old septic system when it inevitably failed, which I figured would be sooner rather than later. I set aside the cash – and then it took two years for the city to lay the pipes in my neighborhood’s streets (photos here and here), and (unbelievably) another two years for the contractor I hired to get around to connecting me. They finished just the other day.

This was the scene in my front yard as the work commenced.


I was not prepared for the shock of seeing my lawn destroyed, but obviously you can’t lay sewer lines without doing a lot of digging. I was also not prepared for just how angry I would become when I discovered that their backhoe severed my well line. I was white-hot angry! Fortunately, they were able to repair the damage.


Although the sewer line connected to my plumbing through the front of my house, the septic tank was out back, and part of the job included pumping the tank dry and filling it with dirt. The Bobcat they used to move the dirt tore up my grass pretty bad.


After the line was laid and the city inspection had passed, they filled in the trench. And now I have a lot of landscaping to do. Yay.


I’m relieved, not only that the job is done but especially that I’ve written the final check to pay for all of this.

History, Preservation

Endangered: The 1861 Flanagan/Kincaid House

This lovely 153-year-old house is among a small number of houses from this era that remain in Hamilton County, Indiana – and it’s in very real danger of being demolished.

Old house, Hamilton County

As I said when I first shared this house with you last year, it stands next to I-69 on 106th Street in Fishers, which is a suburb of Indianapolis. It is surrounded by housing subdivisions and office parks.

Old house, Hamilton County

According to The Indianapolis Star, the land-development company that owns the property planned to demolish the house last week to clear the way for office and retail development. Fortunately, historic preservation organizations intervened, and are talking with the developer about ways to save this historic house.

The news report confirmed some things I’ve learned about this house since I wrote about it last year. It was built in 1861 by Peter Flanagan. Its brick walls are said to be 13 inches thick! The property passed through members of the Flanagan family until 1934 when Loma Kincaid bought it. Mr. Kincaid founded the L. E. Kincaid & Sons butcher shop about 20 miles away in Indianapolis. His butcher shop is still in business. It’s not far from my home, and I’m an occasional customer there. I love connections like this!


I’m rooting for the Flanagan/Kincaid house, but I feel pessimistic for it. Fishers is experiencing explosive growth, making this land very valuable. Additionally, the Indiana Department of Transportation is seriously considering adding an interchange at 106th St. with I-69. Given how close this house is to the existing overpass, I imagine that project would also imperil the house.

Old house, Hamilton County

I hope that the preservationists and historians on the case are persistent and tenacious.

One of the oldest houses in Indianapolis is the 1834 Boardman House. See it here.


Returning to normal as the big sewer project wraps up

I started to think maybe I’d had enough of the giant sewer project in my neighborhood the day I was driving, by necessity, down the wrong side of my street, met a neighbor driving the other way, and had to back up 100 feet and into someone’s driveway to let him pass.

Fortunately, paving was soon to follow, restoring two-way traffic.

First, they filled in the hole in my front yard and poured a new curb.

And then they spread asphalt into the side of the street where they laid the pipe. I walked out the next morning barefoot to get my mail and the asphalt was still warm!

And then… they did nothing for two months. Actually, they were out destroying the main road and laying the main sewer line. They removed the pavement along almost half a mile of it – that’s when I drove off the paved road onto the dirt six inches below and broke all the ground effects off the front of my car. If I hadn’t been sure I was ready for this project to be over before, I was certainly sure then.

Finally, they came out and leveled the mounds of dirt in our front yards. Several days later they spread grass seed and straw.

And summer…

…turned to autumn. My neighborhood’s streets continued to be ignored while the main road got all the attention. We got some heavy rain, turning it into a mud bog for weeks. My poor car was covered in mud up to the windowsills! Finally the sewer line was laid, the road was graded, and a first layer of asphalt was put down.

They then turned back to my neighborhood and began to lay final asphalt. They managed to pave only about half the neighborhood, stopping right in front of my house, before ignoring us again for a few more weeks.

This is the scene now. All of my neighborhood’s streets are paved; new grass is growing well. All but the last layer of asphalt is down on the main road.

It’s becoming hard to tell that our lives were ever disrupted by this project.

They say that come May, when the sewer line under the main road is connected to the rest of the city’s sewer system, they’ll send us letters telling us we can connect our outgoing plumbing to the sewer hookups in our yards. That’s when I have to write checks totaling about $6,000.

Have I mentioned that my house is 43 years old and is on its original septic system? Have I further mentioned that you can expect to get 25 to 40 years out of a septic system? Oh, I was going to pay sooner or later. It’s better to pay for a permanent solution!

Ah, homeownership. Read about the time a storm damaged my little ranch house.