Sewage floods homes in Grand Forks County community

Sewer water is backing up into homes in Northwood due to overflowing sewers from the recent heavy rainfall.

Sewer water flooding the basement of a Northwood home.
Matt Henson / WDAY News

NORTHWOOD, N.D. — It's a problem that has forced its way into Tim Cope's Northwood home three times in the past 4 years.

"It just boils over the toilet lid and onto the floor," Cope explained.

There is also video of the sewer water bubbling into the home last week and flooding the basement. The Copes say they've spent tens of thousands of dollars cleaning up their home over the years.

"It's heartbreaking, it's disgusting," Cope said. "My kids live down here and I've had enough."

"Anybody that gets their basement flooded with sewage and rain water has a legitimate gripe," said Northwood Mayor Gerry Uglem.


The mayor admits its been an issue for years in the small town and happens after excessive rainfall.

The rain water gets into the sewer lines and many of the homes in the city have old sewer pipes.

The city had hoped to replace a sewer line under the tracks in 2022, but permitting for the $1.2 million project has pushed the project back to 2023. The city also wants to replace a lift station and is trying to get a $15 million federal grant to feed more storm water runoff out of the city.

"It takes time and a lot of money," Uglem explained.

In the meantime, city leaders recommend homeowners buy a sewer valve. They cost a few hundred dollars.

"Nothing we can do about it without getting these projects done," Uglem said.

It's not what the Cope family wanted to hear as they cope with another messy cleanup, and wonder when more sewer water may flow into their home again.

"To have to worry about waking up to a sewer-infested home — I do not know. I don't know how to describe it anymore other than it's almost humiliating to be a part of this community," Cope said.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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