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Man blocks sewage drainage to property, Gravity Drainage fires back

DENHAM SPRINGS - Fed up with neighbors dumping sewage on his property, a man built a dam to block off access.

Terry Soileau moved into his Denham Springs home a few years ago, with knowledge that a drainage ditch ran through his property. Early on, Soileau says he noticed this drainage ditch often backed up or overflowed into a pond he's stocked with fish to eat.

He first built up a wall of dirt blocking access to his next door neighbor's drainage and then build a second dirt wall at the drainage ditch entrance which empties into his yard from across the street.

Residents along Carew Harris Road feed their septic tanks into a drainage ditch that runs along the road. A culvert funnels the septic water and rainwater under the road and through Soileau's property.

"It's a health issue," said Soileau. "Unless it's raining, the only thing flowing through here is sewage from across the street."

Over the years, Soileau says the drainage ditch has not been properly maintained, backing up and overflowing into his pond.

Soileau's neighbors, some who have lived in the neighborhood long before Soileau moved in, are not too happy about the changes he's made.

"Everyone of us is having problems," said Ronald Fuentes. "He plugged it up!"

Fuentes says the drainage channels are now stagnant because the water has no where to go. The drainage ditch has been there for decades.

The battle between these neighbors goes deeper. On March 7, 2017 representation for Livingston Parish Gravity Drainage District No. 1 advised Soileau he was in violation of a civil code and would be given 15 days to remove the obstruction from the drainage channel or Gravity Drainage District No. 1 would remove it. Soileau did not give permission and is now being sued by Gravity Drainage District No. 1 to remove the obstruction.

Gravity Drainage District No. 1 says Soileau has blocked a natural drainage channel that is within the territory that it maintains.

District No. 1 is requesting the ditch running across Soileau's property "be described a statutory drainage servitude and a natural drainage servitude." The suit also says, "Substantial delay in allowing the plaintiff to remove the obstruction will cause permanent and irreparable injury to public drainage."

A district judge issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Soileau from obstructing the servitude, interfering with Gravity Drainage District No. 1's removal of obstructions from the servitude or making any drainage improvements within the servitude.

Soileau says he'll continue to fight this to protect his property, family and pets from a health hazard.

Soileau and Gravity Drainage District No. 1 will appear before a judge July 3.

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