By Tony Aiello

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A century old sewer system under the streets of New York’s eighth largest city is on the verge of collapse, according to residents and Mount Vernon city officials.

Homeowners are struggling with some very unpleasant consequences, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Thursday.

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One end of Brookside Avenue is blocked so a vacuum truck can unblock a sewer line to allow Linda McNeil to use the toilet in her home – after she wet vacs the waste backup.

You can imaging her frustration.

“Mentally and emotionally, I can’t take it much more,” McNeil said.

“There’s no way that as Americans, as human beings, that we should have to pump out our own waste with a wet vac,” said Eileen Lambert, a homeowner’s daughter.

The family knows members of the public works crew by name, since they’re in the area so often.

The problem is a collapsing 75-year-old sewer line that’s buried under the street in front of the McNeils’ home.

The issue on Brookside Ave. is just one of many sewer infrastructure problems plaguing Mount Vernon. A pump borrowed from Westchester County has closed a street one mile north for weeks just to keep the sewer line functioning.

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Mount Vernon needs tens – if not hundreds – of millions of dollars to upgrade ancient infrastructure. But that’s money the city doesn’t have. Median household income is 38% below the Westchester County average.

Political infighting at City Hall and a pending investigation into how the comptroller handles finances compound the problem.

“It is beyond our city’s capacity to fix this issue,” said Lambert. “We need federal and state intervention here to help us.”

Damani Bush, the new DPW commissioner, said he’s chasing every grant program out there to find funds.

“I’ve just been reaching out to everyone at this point. The can has been kicked down the road for so long that it’s time to actually get the job done,” Bush said.

The good news is a water quality grant to replace the lines on Brookside Ave. will soon be in hand.

It’s a small step toward solving a much larger issue.

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Tony Aiello