Residents alarmed by excess sewage in waterway near treatment plant

Company says it is upgrading facility, is cleaning it up

HOUSTON – Residents were concerned over a stench in the air and murky water at the waterway near a sewage treatment plant in North Harris County, saying the smell is unbearable.

County officials said there was a violation at the plant. Representatives of the company responsible for the plant said it addressed the situation promptly and is finishing upgrades to the facility, which will mitigate the issue.

Several residents living near the 5600 block of North Sam Houston Parkway East are frustrated over the smell of sewage.

“The water looks very cloudy and dirty. We were back there, we noticed there’s toilet paper and sewage in the creek,” one resident said. "(My sons) like to come back here in the creek and try to do some fishing, which is not a good idea.”

The resident said the smell is coming from a waterway, an extension of the Greens Bayou located behind a sewage treatment facility. The Harris County Flood Control District manages the waterway.

KPRC 2 reached out about residents' complaints over the smell.

Harris County Pollution Control Services Department representatives said they are investigating several violations in that area by the Douglas Utility Company, who owns the plant. Investigators took water samples.

When KPRC 2 reached out to the Douglas Utility Company to get answers, a representative with the company said that Douglas Utility Company, as well as the company they hired to help operate the company, had not received any official complaint from residents.

However, earlier this week, they received a call from Harris County Pollution Control informing them about the excess sewage coming from the plant’s sewage overflow pipe. Within two hours, the company said, Douglas Utility Company contracted another company to clean it up. Representatives with the company said the instance is a “one-time” situation, stating the excess sewage was an unintended result of necessary upgrades to the plant.

Douglas Utility Company representatives said the family inherited the business after the unexpected and tragic death of a family member. Family members were told they have to upgrade the plant in order to sell it, which the family wanted to do. The excess in sewage occurred when the company had to shut down its smaller older plant in order to transition into the newer larger and updated facility, according to the company’s representatives.

Douglas Utility Company said the upgrades are just about complete and residents should not have to worry about any excess sewage. Representatives said the family plans on selling the company very soon.

Harris County Pollution Control said they are looking into these matters and will continue to keep KPRC 2 updated.