Sewage problem leads to smelly situation for Sugar Land resident: 'It happens from time to time'

Courtney Carpenter Image
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Sewage seeps into Sugar Land home not once, not twice, but 3 times
ABC13 is working on getting to the bottom of a plumbing problem at an apartment after a resident said the sewage system backed up multiple times.

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) -- One morning, Graham Bateman said he heard what he thought was water running in the bathroom of his Sugar Land apartment, but turns out it wasn't water.

"I went in there, and the bathtub was backing up with excrement," Bateman said.

But the mess didn't stop there; it continued outside the building.

"It came wall to wall, all the way down to the parking lot. It was just rushing out. You can see where it's dried now, too," Bateman explained.

That was the third time Bateman says he's experienced this same kind of problem - plumbing issues within the building that leave his toilet and bathtub backed up, overflowing, and a smelly, not to mention unsanitary mess all around the building.

"As it dried out during the day, the smell got gradually stronger, and it was what you would expect it to smell like," Bateman said.

He said the maintenance crew eventually washed off the sidewalks, but he's frustrated with the ongoing issue that does not seem to be getting a real fix.

"They just said they can't predict when it happens, it happens from time to time, they will clean it up when we report it, but yeah, they can't stop it," Bateman said.

Since ABC13 got involved, management has made some changes.

Harbor Group International, who owns the Foundations at Austin Colony, replaced Bateman's toilet and put together a plumbing maintenance plan.

They also emailed ABC13 the following statement:

"We are working diligently to address these clogs, and we certainly respect any frustrations from among our residents as it is very possible that a backup can occur for a resident who has been careful to avoid disposing of clog-hazards in their own pipes given the interconnective nature of the plumbing in any apartment building. Our preventative maintenance program is underway and camera inspections of the plumbing for impacted buildings are happening today. These buildings will get monthly preventative maintenance using sewer enzymes and any damage found from the camera inspection will be promptly repaired."

The pledge to fix the repairs is good news for Bateman, who is ready for a day when the sewage stays where it is supposed to.

"I want them to address whatever the root cause is so it doesn't happen again," Bateman said.

So what can you do if you rent a place with a reoccurring problem like this?

In this situation, attorney Ernie Garcia says to make sure your rent is current, make sure to give a notice in writing to the complex or your landlord about the problem, and if management is still ineffective at fixing it, you may consider filing a repair and remedy claim with a justice of the peace. Garcia says that is a move that typically gets management to move towards actually fixing the problem.

If you are a renter with a problem you would like us to look into, head to and fill out the form with as much detail as possible. You can also call the Renters' Rights line at 713-663-4548.

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