KPRC 2 Investigates: Lake Houston canals packed with trash and debris

Neighbors ask for help tracking down who is responsible for clean-up

Morning coffee and watching the sunrise from a beautiful lake view sounds like a dream life, right? People in one neighborhood off of Lake Houston say they can’t enjoy their scenic views because of a huge mess right out their back doors. We’ve had several people in the Crosby area contact us after they say they tried everything else to get help. Our KPRC 2 Investigates team is getting answers.

Morning coffee and watching the sunrise from a beautiful lake view sounds like a dream life, right? People in one neighborhood off of Lake Houston say they can’t enjoy their scenic views because of a huge mess right out their back doors. We’ve had several people in the Crosby area contact us after they say they tried everything else to get help. Our KPRC 2 Investigates team is getting answers.

KPRC 2 Investigates nasty canals from Lake Houston in Crosby neighborhood. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“Sludge. Four or five feet worth of sludge. That stinks. And it’s trash. It’s all trash,” says Cherie Grothe.

The canals behind homes along Lake Houston are packed with trash and debris. Trying to track down *who* can help has been a challenge. Cherie Grothe showed our team the awful, stinky mess jammed up in the canal behind her home in the Indian Shores subdivision in Crosby.

“The reason we bought this house is that it’s three lots and it’s on the lake,” said Grothe. “We fish. We have boats, we have jet skis. This is some of the best catfish fishing.”

But for months now, she hasn’t been able to do any of that.

Kprc’s Devin Clarke talked with nearby neighbor Bryan Stephens about the same issue.

Trash pile-up creating eyesore in Crosby canal

“I’ve found everything from tires to oil cans,” said Stephens.

Just like Grothe, Stephens can’t figure out how to get help.

“Nobody claims it, nobody claims it,” he said. “Everybody is pointing the finger at the next person, they say that’s not our area.”

“I called the city of Houston. I called the waste management department, I called the environmental and whatever department, and I called the TCEQ. I left messages with everyone,” said Grothe.

Who is responsible for Lake Houston canal clean-up?

Here’s what our Investigates team learned: the City of Houston owns Lake Houston. It’s the source of about 85% of the city’s drinking water. But the City’s only responsibility is making sure the drinking water isn’t contaminated and they tell us surface gunk and junk isn’t impacting that.

KPRC 2 Investigates nasty canals from Lake Houston in Crosby neighborhood. Neighbors can't figure out how to get help to clean it up. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

We called Mayor Pro-Team Dave Martin in City Council District E. His staff told us they were also shocked to learn cleaning Lake Houston has always been a volunteer effort by members of the community. But in 2019 Martin got City Council to create the “Lake Houston Maintenance Fund.” All permitting fees paid by anyone building on the lake will go into this fund and be used to do regular clean-up and dredging of the lake and canals.

“I want it cleaned. I want it clean. I want it to go away. I want it to look nice,” said Grothe. “I want my kids to be able to play in it. My big kids and my little kids.”

  • There is no timeline for when that fund will have enough money to buy the equipment needed to clean up the lake and its canals.
  • But while that fund grows, Martin’s staff told us there’s another hitch. They say some of the canals on the lake are privately owned. They have to reach out and get written consent from all of the private property owners to clear the debris out of those canals. So, if there are 12 properties in one canal all 12 owners have to consent or the city won’t be able to go into that area.
  • If you live in this area and would like to contact the District E spokesperson, you can reach out on the website.

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