Sewer Lagoon Nearly Overflowing, Boynton May Soon Be Without Sewage System
BOYNTON, Oklahoma - It's a small town with big problems, there are several investigations surrounding the town of Boynton, but the most recent could leave residents without a sewage system.
The Boynton sewage system is still working, barely. It's not environmentally safe and it could break any day. Soon, residents could be on their own for septic service.
Hazardous since 2006, and getting worse by the day, a sewer lagoon right off the highway in Boynton hasn't met Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality standards for years. And the town is now losing out on more than $200,000 meant to fix it.
"The system had many, many years of neglect and it finally just broke down on them," said Kevin Wilson, with the Eastern Oklahoma Development District.
Wilson secured that $200,000 in grant money to fix the sewage system, but said his work is now a waste. He said Boynton can't accept the funds because of the town's financial and legal troubles.
"Oh it's a terrible loss for the community. Eventually, this is going to have to be fixed. DEQ is not going to let this slide. At some point they're going to have to come and fix it, or, I'm really not sure what their next option is," Wilson said.
State auditor Gary Jones is investigating a five-year backlog of town audits.
"It's kind of a snowball effect. First they need to get control of their finances, get an audit done, and then they'd be able to address the issue to use that grant money," Jones said.
Two weeks ago, Jim Holt resigned as mayor. He said he tried to get the town back on track financially, but said it is too far gone.
"I couldn't get no help. Nobody wanted to do nothing," Holt said.
The sewer lagoon is the size of a football field, and is nearly overflowing. ODEQ said if the town can't fix it, residents will have to buy their own septic systems. That makes Boynton resident Mike Lance want to take action, or else.
"DEQ will shut down our sewer system and, yep, we're going to be out a lot of money as land owners and property owners in the town of Boynton," Lance said.
An ODEQ spokesperson said Boynton has accrued $65,000 in penalties, but said the town has no financial wherewithal to pay, so it's an empty threat to get them to fix the sewage system.
The former mayor said the town is not collecting on water bills and is more than $50,000 behind.