HOUSTON – A cloudy slurry of raw sewage fills a large hole in the 700 block of E 7th Street in the Heights area.
When Hunter and Kayla Lynn flush their toilets or flush, they say the sewage fills a hole across the street from their neighbors’ homes.
Homeowners in the Heights have noticed toilet flushing problems in the past, but nothing as dirty as what they experienced over the weekend.
“It wasn’t until we had a big event at our house where there were multiple people using the toilet at once that it finally caught up and backed up,” Hunter said.
That was Saturday. But the next day, water from the sewer started backing up into the shower drains, Kayla said.
The Lynns called a plumbing crew Sunday, who ran a camera through their sewer line. The camera spotted roots across the street, in their neighbors’ front yard right-of-way.
At first they thought it might be a burst pipe, so the team dug a hole, only to find a pipe dumping sewage from Lynn’s recently renovated 102-year-old house straight into the soil across the street.
“Our drain pipe just ends in the yard and doesn’t connect to the city sewer,” Hunter said.
They said the plumbing crew could not do any more work at this time.
“We’re not allowed to just contact him without (the city’s) consent,” Hunter said.
They reported the problem to Houston 311. An inspector came on Monday, but on Tuesday the problem still hadn’t been fixed.
“We’re just waiting for this to be resolved while the sewer is sitting in the neighbor’s front yard,” Hunter said.
Last October, neighbors reported a sinkhole in the exact same spot on Houston 311. City crews responded and the Lynns said they removed what they called an abandoned sewer line at the time.
So far, the city has not advised the Lins to stop flushing their toilets.
“It’s a health and safety issue and they need to be a little more diligent about making sure we don’t,” Kayla said.
The Lins are also frustrated that they haven’t received regular updates from the city.
Houston Public Works crews went to the neighborhood Tuesday afternoon and pumped raw sewage out of the hole. They are also placing a steel plate over it until further repairs can be made.
A spokesperson for Houston Public Works told KPRC 2 Tuesday night that wastewater crews will go to the neighborhood Wednesday morning to investigate specific issues. The Houston Health Department is also expected to be there to make sure the sewage is handled properly.
“The Houston Health Department advises residents to avoid contact with sewage. It is especially important for residents to avoid contact with sewage if they have cuts or wounds that could become infected,” a Houston Health Department spokesperson wrote in an email to KPRC 2. “Residents should also take steps to ensure that insects do not enter their homes. Sewage-contaminated insects can contaminate food and surfaces, leading to gastrointestinal illness for residents.
There is no timetable yet for how long the repairs could take.
“The only positive in this whole thing is the neighbor has some green grass and a healthy tree in his front yard,” Hunter said.
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