Levelland residents this week expressed concern about raw sewage seeping out of a manhole and into a residential area. The sewage water and sewage debris have been pooling in the streets and lawns between Avenue N and 11th Street.
John Timmons said, “My sewer main is backing into the street and as it backs up, what the city has been doing this year – four times this year – has piled up dirt at the end of the street.” Timmons believes the city may not have acted to stop the sewage so soon without his posts to social media asking for change.
“Once it builds up and they get the main stopped they let that water sit and dry up,” Timmons explained.
Timmons said the smell has been terrible, he compared it too the smell of a feedlot after a rainstorm.
“It’s back-filled so hard it’s overflowing the alleyway and into people’s homes around here,” he added. Timmons said this sewage leak isn’t happening for the first time, he recalls similar problems dating back to 2009.
A reporter for KAMC witnessed both the strong smell and the sight of sewer debris such as tampons and used toilet paper.
Since Tuesday, Levelland crews have worked at all hours of the day to vacuum up the water and divert the sewage to other locations. The crews also poured sand and chlorine pellets onto the sewage in an attempt to subdue the smell. Not only is the sewage smelly, it’s a health hazard.
“Anytime you get raw sewage coming above ground, it’s a top priority,” said Levelland’s City Manager Rick Osburn.
As a small city Levelland is strapped finding resources and time to clean up the sewage. For example, they’ve had difficulty finding trucks that are licensed to vacuum sewage water.
Osburn explained that the area where the leakage happened has old piping and brick manholes that are weak. He added that years of drought compounded with recent rain have caused more problems for the pipes.
Osburn said, “If I were living out there I would be concerned. I’m not living out there and I’m concerned. And we’re doing all we can but there’s a lot of things out of our control and we’re doing the best we can until we can get out there and find a permanent fix to the situation.”
That permanent fix will likely include replacing the sewer lines and manholes in the area.
Rain on Monday and Tuesday put Levelland’s sewage system over the edge, the pipe system was filled beyond capacity. Osburn said the city had known about the sewage problems for months, but they hadn’t been able to make the necessary changes because of bad weather.
Levelland Councilman Manuel Mendez Jr. said that while city crews have been working hard to fix the problem, the city should have handled the problem better earlier on.
“We’re not gonna treat these folks this way, they deserve better,” Councilman Mendez said.