Parklawn homes can finally make connection to Modesto wastewater service

Some Parklawn residents never thought this day would come, but they can start the process of getting wastewater service from the city of Modesto.

Last month, city officials accepted sewer improvements for the Stanislaus County unincorporated island off East Hatch Road in south Modesto, where failed septic tanks have caused sanitation problems for years.

Parklawn’s struggles have been told before. A 2004 lawsuit, charging that Parklawn and three other county islands had been passed over for municipal services, was finally settled in 2011, with the county agreeing to bring wastewater service to residents. To comply with city rules, the county has to complete neighborhood improvements before Modesto will extend sewer service to unincorporated islands.

Stanislaus County installed the first sewer lines in 2013, and then a $4.5 million state grant was awarded, enabling the county to complete the $5.5 million project. The grant covers the cost of Modesto connection fees for Parklawn’s 326 homes.

California Rural Legal Assistance has distributed fliers with information on hooking up to sewer service. Thus far, about 20 residents have called the nonprofit legal service expressing an interest.

“It is a great victory,” said attorney Marisol Aguilar of CRLA, which has represented Parklawn residents. “We are proud of the work we have done and the way the county has responded. For decades, the residents have been diligent and consistent in asking for what they need.”

Luis Castillo, a CRLA community worker, said the service hookups will cost about $2,000 to $4,000 for each home. Homeowners can pay for materials and put in the service connection themselves or hire a contractor.

Residents are responsible for paying a county building fee costing $166 to $230, Castillo said. Owners will complete the job by demolishing their septic tanks.

Homeowners are expected to follow the city and county’s steps for obtaining the necessary permits, agreements and inspections.

To assist Parklawn residents, low-interest loans are available from the Stanislaus County Housing Authority. The loans, at zero to 3 percent interest, allow families to pay for connection costs by making small monthly payments over a couple of years, Castillo said.

Loan payments can be deferred for 20 years, he said.

There are a number of steps for homeowners to connect to Modesto service:

▪ An owner needs to take his or her property deed to the city of Modesto’s Land Development and Engineering Division, on the third floor of Tenth Street Place, at 1010 10th St., to verify ownership and apply for a service agreement.

▪ Once the owner has a service agreement and no-cost connection permit from Modesto, he or she must apply for a county building permit on the third floor of Tenth Street Place.

▪ After a building permit is issued, the owner can run a new drain line from home to sewer lateral. A city and county inspection is required before service is connected to the house and trenches are filled.

▪ Once service is connected, a licensed contractor has to pump the septic tank; the tank then must be demolished and inspected by the county.

▪ After inspections are completed, the owner can set up a sewer service account at Modesto’s utility billing office on the second floor of 1010 10th St.

Parklawn residents can review the steps in English or Spanish at Click on the handout for “Parklawn Sewer Connection Process Information,” which includes phone numbers to call.

Residents also can attend a community meeting held the first Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at the church at 1601 Dover Ave., or call CRLA at 209-577-3811.

Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321