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Century-old pipes causing present-day drainage problems in Columbia

Resident says her backyard is like 'Niagara Falls' when it rains.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Recent flooding on Cherokee Street in downtown Columbia is causing problems for surrounding residents. 

"When we had the big sink hole, you can see the construction going on," Cherokee Street resident Luevenia Bluefort said.

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According to Columbia Water, Bluefort's neighbors on Washington Street had a pipe collapse. 

Bluefort said that was the last straw. "Niagara Falls, every time it rains all, of my soil gets washed away," she said.

Now, construction surrounds her property but isn't on her property. She said watching that happen brought more attention to the problem in her own backyard.

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"I feel as though, if something is not done, my backyard is going to be the next sinkhole," Luevenia said.

Her problem is because of a stormwater drain on her property. 

"Who owns that?" Bluefort said.

She's not the only one asking that question. Columbia Water is also questioning the responsibility for the drain.

"We can't find any record as to who owns them. We would have to get an easement to do repair work," Robert Yanity with Columbia Water said.

Richland County records show Bluefort has owned her home on Cherokee Street since August 1995. She said the drain was there before the house was built in March 1995.

Yanity said this isn't a unique case where pipes were laied 100 or more years ago and home or other structures came later. But, he said the city can still do something to help Bluefort.

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"What the city is going to do is take over the easement that runs through her back yard, as well as her neighbors'," he said

This requires a process of its own. Columbia Water says it filed paperwork months back to gain ownership of those pipes.

"I'm tired of being the cesspool," Bluefort said. "I pay taxes like everybody else, so the city needs to do something." 

Now, it's a matter of waiting to prevent future wading. 

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