Baytown leaders take action against sewer sinkhole

June 30, 2010 4:51:27 PM PDT
It's not something you would want in your backyard. A broken sewer line has led to a stinky sinkhole in a Baytown neighborhood. The messy problem has led to emergency action by the Baytown City Council. The hole is right next to Goose Creek. It's about 10 feet by 15 feet. It's not huge by any means, but it has the potential to be a real public health hazard.

Homeowners in the Baytown neighborhood knew there were problems even before the stinky hole along the banks of Goose Creek suddenly appeared.

"Some mornings, when you come out here, you can hardly breathe," homeowner William Atchison said. "It's like walking into a sewer."

The city was in the process of replacing the old sewer lines, but crews hadn't reached the section that ruptured and collapsed. Pumps that typically run four to six hours a day have been under tremendous pressure because of the leak.

"There's not a real danger to the community here," said Mark LeBlack with Baytown Public Works Department. "The concern is the amount of water that we're having to pump and send to our treatment plant, and then we're having to treat that water."

If the pumps -- which are running 24 hours a day -- fail, service would be disrupted, and sewage would begin backing up into the creek. City leaders approved a nearly $70,000 project to keep that from happening during an emergency meeting.

"They are fixing it now, so I'm a happy camper," homeowner Joe Mitchan said.

City crews are working to cap the old line and the sour smell. They're laying a new sewer line farther back from the creek and placing inserts in the manholes to seal in the odor.

"If this doesn't solve it, I'm gonna go to the state, because this is absolutely an unhealthy situation," Atchison said.

Crews were still out Wednesday evening racing to clean out one of the manholes. A homeowner told Eyewitness News that he warned the city about two years ago that something like this would happen because of erosion.

This problem, however, is not isolated to just this area. In fact, the city of Baytown spends about a million dollars a year replacing old sewer lines.


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