Some Dublin residents returned home this week after sanitary sewer work caused a backup into 16 homes on March 26, but others might be living elsewhere for months, city officials said.

Some Dublin residents returned home this week after sanitary sewer work caused a backup into 16 homes on March 26, but others might be living elsewhere for months, city officials said.

The city and Inland Waters Pollution Control Inc., the contractor for the Dublin Road sanitary sewer-lining project, blamed the backup on a problem with the bypass pumping system used to route sewage around the work area.

Dublin economic development director Dana McDaniel said nothing like this has happened before with similar projects.

"We've done over 25 miles of (this). ... Essentially there is a process to put new liner in, but in order to do it, you have to plug the pipe at one point and pump water around it," he said. "There was a failure in the design of the pump system. It couldn't keep up with the capacity. That's what caused the backup of wastewater into the homes."

Inland has been working on the project since March 8. The sanitary sewer line that is being relined is located between Dublin Road and the Scioto River from Glanamoy Circle to the I-270 overpass bridge.

McDaniel said this week that the work has been halted.

"We suspended the operation for a couple of weeks," he said. "We'll revisit the process and procedures, then move forward at a later date. We do have this project and another (sewer lining) set for this year. We do want to continue to invest in our infrastructure."

Four families were still in temporary housing as of press time Tuesday. The city made sure people had a place to stay after the backup occurred and paid for the hotel stays, public information officer David Ball said.

"Our priority was making sure residents are taken care of," he said. "We worked with hotels to make sure housing was available. ... We just wanted to make sure they were safe, secure and had a roof over their heads."

Cleaning crews got into the homes last weekend, Ball said, and insurance companies have or will tour the homes to investigate. When the backup occurred, some homes had toilets overflow on the second floor, he said.

"It's been very difficult for all the residents. A lot have lost a lot of stuff, personal items, things that cannot be replaced," Ball said. "There are physical parts of some houses that will have to be replaced. We're still assessing this."

According to the city, the relining is expected to add as many as 50 years to the improved portion of the sewer system.

"We've been using this process for 10 years now and have not had problems of this significance before," McDaniel said. "It's a proven process, but obviously there are inherent risks to anything you do and this is not exception."

Calls to Inland Waters Pollution Control Inc. for comment were not returned by press time.