FRANKLINTON, LA (WVUE) - There is a message in the small town of Franklinton for passers-by to keep things clean, but residents say that is hard to do in the part of town where sewage backs up into yards and roads every time it rains.
"In this woman's home, she has children. Her and husband have to live with this sewage coming into their house. Every time it rains hard they have sewage in their house," resident Kendric Stewart said.
The sanitation situation in Franklinton is so bad that residents' toilets and tubs back up with sewage and some people are forced to walk to the grocery store to use the bathroom, according to Stewart.
"This is not something I made up overnight. People have to go to Winn-Dixie to use the restroom because they can't use it at their own home," Stewart said.
The LA Department of Environmental Quality is aware of the problem and issued violations to the town, citing unauthorized discharge of waste water and failing to properly operate and maintain facilities.
But the outlook for Franklinton residents is getting better. The town recently was approved for a loan/grant from the federal government worth more than $5.5 million to install a new lift station and overhaul parts of the system.
"The lift station is actually going to remove the burden on the existing sewer system," town engineer Jay Pippen said.
"In 40 years, nothing has been done. Now we're trying our best to try and do something," Department of Public Works Director Reginald McMasters said.
But Stewart is skeptical the end of the problem is actually near after decades of frustrations and pleas with city leaders.
"This is my fight because every night when I leave my job this is where I come to. I don't come to a mansion. I come home, and that's what we care about," Stewart said.
The bidding process is scheduled to start in August, and the project expected to be finished in 2017. But until the job is complete, those living near the problem will continue to live where they often cannot use their own bathrooms and have to walk down the road when nature calls.