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Downtown Sewer Problem Gets Personal
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Amazing how vehement people become when an issue affects them personally.

Riverbank Vice Mayor Sandra Benitez has pushed consistently to go ahead with raising sewer rates so the city has the money to repair the aging pipeline system.

At the last Riverbank City Council meeting, she stated the case for fixing the city's system even more strongly after explaining the sewer had recently backed up into her yard. It made such a mess she had her husband Art out there working with a shovel and could not let her dogs out for exercise, she reported to the council.

She called Public Works. Workers responded quickly, she noted, and she was pleased about that.

But Benitez is even more certain now she wants the citywide system fixed and soon, even if that takes a raise in the rates for everybody.

The sewer system in the downtown area is in bad a shape as anywhere, she said - she lives on East Sierra Street. And one recent overflow affected the senior citizen apartments nearby.

A city move to raise rates has been delayed several months by arguments over the requirements of Proposition 218 and whether tenants besides property owners must be given the chance to vote for or against higher fees.