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Asphalt dumped into sewer costing homeowner thousands in plumbing repairs

8 months 23 hours 58 minutes ago Thursday, December 09 2021 Dec 9, 2021 December 09, 2021 9:20 PM December 09, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - An Oleander Street landlord is out thousands of dollars after trying unsuccessfully to fix plumbing problems that have persisted for more than a year.

"Very frustrated," Wanda Owens said. "[I] don't know who else to call, don't know what to do."

Late last year Owens' tenant told her the house's toilets wouldn't flush, and the sinks would back up during heavy rain. Owens, who bought the home in 1999 and had not had those problems before, called the city parish.

"They looked at the line, and they said, 'well the pipes, there was water getting into the pipes,' and he said it was our problem," Owens said. "So we corrected that one little section and then it continued, the same thing."

When it rained again, nothing changed. Sewage and water spewed from pipes, flooding the yard.

The city still insisted it was Owens' problem. So, she paid thousands to replace the pipes throughout the entire home.

"Over $5,000 to replace all of our sewer lines," Owens said.

The work was completed earlier this year, but when the skies opened up Monday, Owens realized replacing the pipes did not solve the problem.

"You can see the [sewer cleanout] cap has blown off," Owens' tenant said in a video posted to Twitter. "I did not remove that. That is just rainwater and sewage pouring out into our yard."

Days before that, Owens said, Rick Speer, the city's director of environmental services, had told her what they found inside parish sewage lines.

"He looked into it, and they found whoever did the widening of Government [Street] or whatever they were doing, they put asphalt in the [sewer] or something," Owens said. "He said our property drains through that area."

In a statement to WBRZ Thursday, the city appeared to acknowledge that.

City-Parish has been communicating with the concerned resident since they first made a service request. City-Parish has already removed debris and asphalt from the nearby sewage line, inspecting the line on multiple occasions. Work will continue on this issue, which can only be conducted on weekends as lane closures are required. This is a prime example of why it’s important to not put anything into our sewage system that does not belong there. City-Parish suspects heavy rain events and illicit connections are also contributing factors.

WBRZ followed up by asking who dumped the asphalt into the sewer and if it was related to the recently wrapped-up Government Street road diet. A city spokesperson replied, "not sure."

In September after Owens had paid thousands for the work, the city-parish, through a third party claims management company, offered to settle with Owens by paying her $950 for 'plumbing expenses associated with a sewerage backup,' while not admitting liability.

She did not sign the agreement because the problem was not fixed.

Owens is not the only one on Oleander Street dealing with issues stemming from rain events. 

Two doors down, Brad Weems is dealing with a different issue. He has watched portions of his front yard and the entire street engulfed in water on several occasions. He and other neighbors have reached out to the city numerous times about drainage maintenance. 

"We've gotten nowhere," Weems said.

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