For more than a year, Gwendolyn West’s canal-front home in North Miami has been, in the words of her attorney, “literally under attack” by gushing rivers of raw sewage.
West has the unfortunate luck of living next door to a Miami-Dade pumping station that’s undergoing seemingly endless construction to upgrade the system. All of that work shakes her house and spills water into her yard, but the worst part is the sewage that regularly explodes onto her lawn and smells so foul it sometimes wakes West — and has even caused her serious respiratory problems.
Yet when West complained to North Miami and the county, each pointed fingers at the other, she says. The county claimed North Miami's faulty pipes were to blame, and the city countered that the county's busted processing plant was the culprit. Fed up, West has filed a lawsuit against both.
“Each and every day that her property is bombarded by raw sewage and destructive construction activity, her quiet use and enjoyment of the property is compromised,” reads the complaint, filed December 1 in Miami-Dade County Civil Court.
Officials from the city and county did not immediately respond to New Times' request for comment about the allegations.
West says the situation is bad enough that it’s driven her out of her home. After the most recent spill, FEMA investigated and found the sewage represented an “immediate and severe health hazard” to West and her neighbors, according to the suit. So she moved into a mobile home.
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It's not the first time the pump station has been a problem. In 2007, a sewage line ruptured, spewing poop water onto West's property. The city cleaned it up, and the county paid to fix the damage.
But another sewage explosion erupted in June 2016. This one was so bad it sent West to the hospital with breathing problems. More sewage spewed into her yard that August, she says, and again the following September and October. Despite her complaints, nothing has been done to effectively stop the assault, the suit says.
City officials recently met with West and offered to pay for the "remediation process" needed to decontaminate her property. But they wanted her to first sign a release from liability for the damages. She refused.
Her lawsuit, filed by attorney Andrew M. Kassier, seeks more than $15,000 in damages.