The huge spill of domestic wastewater is due to a storm related embankment collapse on the south bank of Buffalo Bayou. That collapse broke a 42-inch sanitary sewer pipe.
"We notified the city, my next door neighbor happened to be looking out over the bayou and saw material floating out an open pipe and called the city," said a homeowner who asked not to be identified.
The spill happened in the 9600 block of Longmont. It's a miracle no water entered the woman's home which sits on the banks of Buffalo Bayou. But now she and her neighbors are dealing with another issue related to the hurricane.
"The flooding was so severe that it literally washed away the support for the sewer line which runs across here about a hundred feet," the homeowner said. The city is working on a temporary fix until permanent repairs can be made.
That won't be easy. Access to the area is difficult and the ground is unstable due to storm damage.
Residents in the area have been dealing with a bad smell that they say comes and goes.
As of 11 a.m. Thursday the city says the estimated volume of released wastewater is 300,000 gallons and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has been notified.
The city says Houston's water is safe, but residents using private wells within half a mile of the site should boil their water for drinking, cooking, bathing and brushing their teeth.
The City of Houston released the following statement:
A storm-related embankment collapse on the south bank of Buffalo Bayou has resulted in the structural failure of a 42-inch sanitary sewer pipe and the spill of domestic wastewater.
The area potentially affected by the spill near 9602 Longmont includes Buffalo Bayou and at least 300 feet downstream.
Houston’s drinking water remains safe.
Houston Public Works is closely monitoring the situation and installing a by-pass pump to continue to provide wastewater service to customers until permanent repairs can be made. Access to the area is difficult and the ground is unstable due to storm damage, which makes repairs complex.
As of today, at 11 a.m., the estimated volume of released wastewater is greater than 300,000 gallons. Appropriate local governmental officials and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) have been notified.
TCEQ requires this mandatory notification and the information below
Persons using private drinking water supply wells located within ½-mile of the spill site or within the potentially affected area should use only water that has been distilled or boiled at a rolling boil for at least one minute for all personal uses including drinking, cooking, bathing, and tooth brushing.
Individuals with private water wells should have their well water tested and disinfected, if necessary, prior to discontinuing distillation or boiling.
Persons who purchase water from a public water supply may contact their water supply distributor to determine if the water is safe for personal use.
The public should avoid contact with waste material, soil, or water in the area potentially affected by the spill. Do not swim in affected areas.
If the public comes into contact with waste material, soil, or water potentially affected by the spill, they should bathe and wash clothes thoroughly as soon as possible.