Residents smell a sewage problem

July 21, 2009 4:59:04 PM PDT
There's a stinky problem in one Houston neighborhood. Raw sewage is leaking from a broken pipe and people there say they've been trying to get something done about it for months. The pipe problem is on San Jacinto Street, near the Museum District. Between the tenant who lives here in this house and the landlord who owns it, at least a half dozen calls were made to the city's 311 help line since April, complaining of what appeared to be raw sewage backing up outside the home.

The city says it was only called twice, both times determining the issue was a private one not one they had liability to fix. However, after questions from Eyewitness News, now they're not so sure.

For Shantaine Shipley, the phrase "no place like home" has a unique meaning.

"It's disgusting. We can't sit outside. It smells gross," said Shipley.

Shipley said it's gross because since April of this year, there has been what appears to be raw sewage backing up on the north side of her the home she rents.

"I want the city to fix the problem. They really need to before somebody gets sick," said Shipley.

Landlord Mickey Frost says he's called the city repeatedly and been told the backup was his problem, even though a plumber found no problems with the sewer line on his property.

"I'm really concerned if this is ever going to get resolved," said Frost.

Frost said four months after that plumber told him it wasn't his problem, only did city crews come out and take a good look at it.

They ran tests including using sonar down in the pipe to try and map its path. One worker told us it is possible that several years ago, when the light rail system was built and the city's sewer system upgraded, the home's sewage line was not hooked up to the city line. However, the city says it will have to finish its investigation.

Frost is just glad to see someone here working on this, whatever the cause.

"Totally coincidental, I suspect. I doubt it. You may have had something to do with it," said Frost.

Workers have put chemicals in this muck to neutralize whatever it is and they plan to begin work to reroute the sewage line from the house to the city's main line.

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