Houstonians refuse to let city workers make sewage repair, citing coronavirus concerns

HOUSTON – Residents in one Eastwood neighborhood have chained their fences and refuse to let city workers on the property to repair a wastewater line, citing coronavirus concerns.

“You do not have my permission to enter my property,” John Pluecker wrote on a sign posted on his fence. “We are currently under a shelter-in-place order. Go home.”

Houston Public Works is trying to take care of an “urgent” wastewater line repair that is “necessary” to prevent “major health and safety” problems, a city representative said in a statement.

However, Jefferson Street residents are not experiencing urgent wastewater problems, Pluecker said. His neighbor also told us this is not an emergency.

“They’re wanting to dig in our backyard, and now is not the time,” resident Sara Sotello said.

“For the protection of all of our families and to try to stop this pandemic, we just don’t feel comfortable letting in a dozen construction workers into our backyard,” Pluecker said.

The workers do not practice social distancing guidelines on the job, the residents said.

“We don’t want them to bring anything onto our properties, because this is our safe haven right now,” said Sotello.

“We’re using our yards right now as the only places our kids can play, like a home gym, (and) to grow vegetables,” Pluecker said. “So right now, our yards mean something different,”

Houston Public Works released a full written statement:

Houston Public Works has a temporary bypass pump for wastewater currently in place at this location. The bypass was installed a little less than two weeks ago to bypass ta line that is obstructing flow in the wastewater system that serves the neighborhood. When the bypass was installed, the repair was scheduled so we’d have the right crews and equipment on site.

This is an urgent repair because a temporary bypass on a wastewater line can quickly back up and cause major sanitary sewer overflows for everyone on the block, which would then be a major health and safety issue, not to mention forcing people from their homes and costly repairs. This project is not routine, but a necessary repair. While performing the repair, the pipe will also be upsized to an 8” pipe to support the wastewater needs of the neighborhood.