Septic company allegedly returns waste over bill dispute

A Maciel and Sons pump truck at the Brunos Mill Hill Road property.

A Vineyard Haven septic company admits it pumped septage back into a homeowner’s underground tanks due to a dispute.

According to an Edgartown Police report, they were called to a Mill Hill Road property because the owners, the Brunos, wanted a septic truck to leave.

Officer Zachary Townes encountered Maciel and Sons employee Trevor Maciel, and learned there was a dispute over the costs of work, according to a police report.

“Maciel stated that he had returned to [the property] to pump sewage back into the Brunos’ septic tanks,” the report states. “I ordered Maciel to stop pumping, and explained that if he felt he was owed money, he could pursue that in civil court. Maciel stopped pumping and stated that he understood.”

Reached Tuesday night in Rhode Island where she lives with her husband, Karen Bruno said, “The whole thing is so shocking.”

Bruno said it began with what turned out to be a paper clog that morphed into various unauthorized septic services, a bill of nearly $6,000, and a deposit of septage of unknown origins. 

She alleged various invoices and the capacity of the tanks that were pumped don’t match what Maciel and Sons say it pumped out. Furthermore, she alleged an invoice shows waste pumped from her property was disposed of at an off-Island facility.

“Whatever he was pumping into our septic system, where did he get that?” she asked. 

Bruno said calls to the company to get an explanation of the bill were met with “mumbo jumbo double talk.” Within a span of a week, she said, waste was pumped out and waste was pumped in. “Does he really think at this point we’re going to pay the bill?” she asked. 

On Wednesday, Troy Maciel admitted his company pumped septage back into the system. “We didn’t even pump back a third of what we pumped out of there,” he said. “Yes, it was their poop.”

That appears in direct contradiction to what Trevor Maciel allegedly told police. According to the police report, Maciel said some of the 5,800 gallons he alleges were pumped out of the Brunos’ system was dumped in Edgartown, and the rest in New Bedford. 

The Maciels told police that’s impossible, because the tank holds only 2,400 gallons.

Troy Maciel said his company received authorization to pump out the system, and that there was no funny business with the gallonage. He alleged the Brunos were “very disrespectful” to his staff and sister, and that Edgartown’s health department was out of bounds weighing in on septic invoices. “This whole thing isn’t about money,” he said. “It’s about how you treat people.”

According to Edgartown health agent Matt Poole, the incident will likely be the subject of a board of health hearing in the coming weeks. “It’s just illegal to pump septage back into someone’s septic tank. Period,” he told The Times Tuesday afternoon.

“The police report is pretty clear,” Poole said. “I don’t think there’s any denying that this happened by anyone involved.”

Also under dispute between the two parties is a charge for a “chemically treated” leaching field at the property. 

“Bruno refused to pay, and was repetitively argumentative with their office administrator,” a report states. “Maciel decided to return the sewage due to lack of payment.”

Trevor Maciel allegedly told Officer Townes he pumped 2,000 gallons back into the tanks.


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