EXCLUSIVE: EPA gets involved in sewage flooding problem in San Francisco neighborhood

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The federal government is now getting involved to help a Bay Area neighborhood that gets flooded with sewage every time there's a storm. People who live along Cayuga Avenue say they've been dealing with this problem for decades.

For many years, residents in the Mission Terrace District of San Francisco have had to endure heavy flooding and sewer backups each time it rains. Obviously, they are angry. ABC7 News has learned the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, has contacted the neighbors there and told them that they have begun an investigation.

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In November 2015, raw sewage mixed with storm water broke through manhole covers and rushed into homes, basements and garages with their contents soaked. Walls and floors were damaged as well.

"Human waste. That's bacteria. That's toxins. That's disease," resident Blane Bachelor said.

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Sandbags are a constant and integral part of the landscape on Cayuga Avenue and surrounding blocks -- a blue collar, working class neighborhood.

Bachelor who lives in the area said, "It's very similar to what's happening in Flint, Michigan and that's very disturbing. They have lead in the water there and we have raw sewage in our homes here."

Since Donna Marie Pon-Ferrada moved to the area a year ago, she's had respiratory problems.

"The coughing constantly and this is just being inside my home, my home," Pon-Ferrada said.

WATCH VIDEO: SF homeowners, businesses frustrated with flooding sewage system

Old-timers in the neighborhood say it has been happening for decades. Video taken by neighbors shows that even with light rainfall sewers back up.

People there are frustrated and angry; they have even filed a lawsuit against the city. San Francisco Public Utilities Commission says the sewage system there is old and the area historically has been vulnerable to floods. They say they are looking into some plans, but no relief yet.

"The city has basically given us lip service, 'Oh, we'll take a look into it. We'll look into it,'" Bachelor said.

But now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched an investigation. The EPA wrote to neighbors saying they share their concerns about a possible public health threat. The letter says, "We are working together with the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board to evaluate the concerns you have raised."

The agency said in a statement to ABC7 News, in part, the "EPA will formally seek additional information from the Public Utilities Commission in the next few weeks."

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