HUSTON – A cloudy mess of raw sewage is filling a large sinkhole in the 700 block of E 7th Street in the Heights area.
When Hunter and Kyla Linn flush their toilets or flush, they say the sewage fills a hole across the street in front of their neighbors’ houses.
Heights homeowners have noticed problems with toilet flushing in the past, but nothing as dire as what they experienced over the weekend.
“It wasn’t until we had a big event at our house where there were a lot of people using the bathroom at the same time that it finally caught up and backed up,” Hunter said.
It was Saturday. But the next day is when water from the sewers started coming up into the shower drains, Kyla said.
The Linns called a plumbing crew Sunday, who ran a camera through their sewage line. The camera spotted the roots across the street, in the right area of their neighbors yard.
At first, they thought it might have been a broken pipe, so the crew dug a hole, only to find a pipe dumping sewage from the Linns’ 102-year-old, recently renovated home straight into the ground across the street.
“Our downspout ends in the yard and is not connected to the city’s wastewater,” Hunter said.
The plumbing crew could do no more 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 on Monday, but on Tuesday, the problem still hadn’t been fixed.
“We’re just waiting for this to be resolved as the sewage sits in the neighbor’s front yard,” Hunter said.
Last October, neighbors reported a sinkhole at the same location to Houston 311. City crews responded and the Linns said they removed what they called an abandoned sewer line at the time.
At this time, the city has not advised the Linns 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 do that,” Kyla said.
The Linns 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 from the hole. They also put a steel plate over it until more repairs can be made.
A Houston Public Works spokesperson told KPRC 2 Tuesday night that sewage crews will be heading 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 being treated properly.
“The Houston Department of Health 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 Department of Health spokesperson wrote in an email to KPRC 2. “Residents should also take steps to ensure that insects do not enter their homes. Insects contaminated with sewage can contaminate food and surfaces, resulting in gastrointestinal illness for residents.”
There is no timeline yet on how long any repairs could take.
“The only upside to this whole thing is that the neighbor has some green grass and a healthy tree in his front yard,” Hunter said.
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