Last week, residents near Avenue N in Levelland found sewage in their yards. The city worked to vacuum and pour chlorine pellets onto the sewage. But then, heavy rains came on Friday and by Saturday sewage was bubbling up again in the streets.
“It flooded all the way up to the corner of the street as the sewage backed– up it was major,” explained neighbor John Timmons whose home is across the street from the sewer main that’s been causing problems. “It popped the lid plumb off the sewer main and the solids came to the top and dispersed around the main,” Timmons said.
The rain overflowed the sewage system and many neighbors were forced to drive or walk through sewage water to reach their homes. According to Levelland Councilman Manuel Mendez Jr., large amounts of waste from West Levelland have been flowing into this neighborhood.
John Timmons explained, “It just flowed into this playa lake and around everyone’s houses, it was completely around everyone’s houses down there. And that was raw sewage, it was razor blades, tampons, rubbers, toilet paper. There were all kinds of things on the street here.”
Timmons can smell the waste from inside his house and his neighbor Jesse Vela has been faced with the smell of sewage creeping onto his property.
“The smell comes up the drain to the back of my alley, it comes up through the manhole and it fills my backyard with all that sewage water,” said Vella who has lived in the area for 15 years.
Workers from the city arrived Saturday afternoon to vaccum the water and throw more chlorine pellets on the waste. Neighbors appreciated the city’s help, but are worried that these smelly problems will continue happening.
“(Saturday) there was one truck driving around trying to fix this major issue, it’s just not enough,” said Timmons.
Timmons said that his neighborhood has been having sewage problems since 2009. This year with more heavy rain, things have gotten notably worse. Timmons spoke out on social media and credits the city’s recent assistance to the media response he’s recieved.
The city spoke to EverythingLubbock.com this week and expressed both long-term and short-term plans for helping out the neighborhood. But Levelland City Manager, Rick Osburn, said that it has been difficult to make those changes becuase of the unpredictable weather in the South Plains this summer.
Bad weather or not, Timmon’s wonders why the city hasn’t improved the sewage lines in his neighborhood sooner. “We’ve had drought since 2009, they’ve had time to fix this they’ve had plenty of years,” Timmons said of the city.
Levelland City Councilman Manuel Mendez Jr. agrees with Timmons. He represents District A which includes the flooded neighbrohood
“That’s one of my questions,” Mendez said, “Why did we not start looking into repairing or fixing this problem when we had no rain?”
Mendez found out about the problem recently, Timmon’s Facebook posts helped to inform him of the issue. Mendez grew up in the flooded neighborhood and still lives blocks away. He said that the City of Levelland sometimes neglects the west side of town.
“It seems like the west side of town is always a forgotten part of town. When I see things like this happen it really does upset me,” Mendez said.
Mendez is particularly upset in light of big-budget projects the city has elsewhere, he wonders why more funds can’t be allocated to residents who have a health hazard bubbling up in their yards. “We owe that to the community, I don’t care what part of town you live in these folks here pay taxes,” Mendez said of the impacted neighborhood.
Mendez plans to continue meeting with the City Manager and Waste Management to implement more solutions.
“As long as I’m on Council, we’re gonna look into it and solve this problem for our residents,” Mendez said. “As I’ve quoted before and I’ll say this again: our folks deserve better than this.”
Mendez has been making visits to the flooded site regularly and talking with residents. He told residents that if concerns like this come up in the future, to let him know immediately.
Mendez says that the consensus with city officials is to continue treating the sewage leaks with chlorine and sand while making plans to redo the neighborhood’s sewage lines.
He gives credit to city employees who have worked on removing the sewage this last week. “Our employees really did a good job of trying to clean up this mess it’s not an easy job as you can tell,” Mendez said.
Mendez said he is determined to find a solution for the residents impacted by the sewage.
“I love levelland. I’ve lived here all my life and I’m going to fight for the people I think deserve to be treated as equal as anyone else in the community,” he said.
TCEQ is also investigating the sewage leak. They have taken samples of water from the area but have yet to release any findings.