HOUSTON – A murky mess of raw sewage is filling a large hole in the 700 block of E 7th Street in the Heights area.
When Hunter and Kyla Linn flush their toilets or run water, they say the wastewater fills a hole across the street in front of their neighbors’ homes.
The Heights homeowners have noticed toilet flushing problems in the past, but nothing quite as grimy as what they experienced over the weekend.
“It wasn’t until we had a large event at our house, where there were multiple people using the bathroom at once, that it finally caught up and backed up,” Hunter said.
That was Saturday. But the next day is when water from the sewer started coming up the drains of the showers, Kyla said.
The Linns called out a plumbing crew on Sunday, which ran a camera through their sewage line. The camera spotted roots across the street, in the right-of-way area of their neighbors’ front yard.
At first, they thought it may have been a broken pipe, so the crew dug a hole, only to find a pipe disposing wastewater from the Linns’ recently renovated, 102-year-old home, straight into the soil across the street.
“Our drainage pipe just terminates in the yard and does not connect to city sewage,” Hunter said.
The plumbing crew couldn’t do any further work at that point, they said.
“We’re not allowed to just connect to it without (the city’s) OK,” Hunter said.
They reported the problem to Houston 311. An inspector came out Monday, but on Tuesday, the problem still wasn’t resolved.
“We’re just kind of waiting around for this to get resolved while sewage sits in the neighbor’s front yard,” Hunter said.
Last October, the neighbors reported a sinkhole in the exact same spot to Houston 311. City crews responded and the Linns said they removed what they called an abandoned sewer line at that time.
For now, the city has not advised the Linns to stop flushing their toilets.
“This is a health and safety issue, and they should be a little bit more diligent about making sure that we don’t do that,” Kyla said.
The Linns are also frustrated they haven’t received regular updates from the city.
Houston Public Works crews went to the neighborhood Tuesday afternoon and pumped the raw sewage out of the hole. They also put a steel plate over it until more repairs can be made.
A spokesperson for Houston Public Works told KPRC 2 on Tuesday evening that wastewater crews will be going to the neighborhood Wednesday morning to investigate specific issues. The Houston Health Department is also expected to be there to make sure sewage is being handled properly.
“The Houston Health Department advises residents to avoid coming in contact with sewage. It’s especially important for the residents to avoid contact with the sewage if they have cuts or wounds that could become infected,” a spokesperson for the Houston Health Department wrote in an email to KPRC 2. “The residents need to also take steps to ensure that insects don’t come into their homes. The insects contaminated with the sewage could contaminate foods and surfaces, resulting in gastrointestinal illnesses for the residents.”
There’s no timeline yet for how long any repairs could take.
“The only positive about this whole thing is that the neighbor has a little bit of green grass and a healthy tree in his front yard,” Hunter said.