The pastor of Mary Woods church fronted $365 to satisfy her $665 bill, she said. She came up with $200, and members of the church covered the remaining $100.
By Tuesday afternoon, a Boise crew had reactivated the line to her home on Targee Street just outside West Boise. Workers removed a plug that had stopped her sewage from flowing into the city system for almost a year. The Ada County Highway District hired a crew to clean up the mess.
That brought to a close the immediate problem of raw sewage in the street. Still hanging is the question of how things got this far.
The central problem, Wood said, was that she couldnt pay her bill.
Her husband, a former highway district employee and her sole source of income, died in 2011, and her finances steadily worsened.
She said she asked Boise to negotiate a payment plan, but the city refused. Once the city plugs a sewer line for nonpayment, it wont unplug it until the entire balance is paid, Boise spokesman Vince Trimboli said. The city doesnt have the power to evict the owner or force the owner not to use the plumbing in the house.
Wood said the problem with her delinquent account caught her by surprise and at a difficult time, when her own health was deteriorating as she struggled to cope with her husbands death.
I wanted to do away with myself, she said. I was not well at all.
The difficulty collecting for sewer service began many years before Woods husband died, Trimboli said.
The city has sent probably more than 100 letters since 2001 to the residence, made dozens of phone calls and posted notices at the house, all in search of money for unpaid sewer bills.
Continuing to allow Wood to use the city system was unfair to paying customers, Trimboli said.
Efforts to collect money from Wood continued after the city plugged the line. In March, Trimboli said, the city notified the state that people might still be living in the house and using the sewer.
Central District Health Department spokesman Dave Fotsch said its common to receive a notice from the city when a sewer line is plugged, but we dont get involved unless there is open sewage on the ground.
The district could find no such report in this case, Fotsch said.
But a little more than two months ago, Wood said, liquid began flowing out of a cleanout valve in her driveway and running down about 50 feet of street toward a field east of her house. To minimize the accumulation of water between her house and where the city plugged her line, Wood said, she used as little water as possible, even going to other places to shower and use the restroom. She said she collected toilet paper and discarded it in the trash.
On Monday, a neighbors complaint found its way to the highway district, setting in motion the events that ended with people helping Wood pay her bill.
But another bill could be coming for the cleanup.
Ultimately, well be looking to hit somebody with the bill, highway district spokesman Craig Quintana said. Were safely past several thousands of dollars and the meter is running.
Sven Berg: 377-6275