One Lubbock neighborhood is fed up with a mysterious sewer smell that has been lingering for years. At Thursday's city council meeting, some neighbors urged the council to investigate this problem.
"If you get a good whiff of it, it will make your eyes water. It will give you a headache," said Becki Laurent.
"It takes your breath away," said Karen Watson.
"It's a sewer gas, whatever you want to call it, but I mean it's just terrible," said Jimmy McCann.
People along 60th Street between Canton and University have had enough of a rancid smell that will not leave them alone.
"Sometimes we can go off and come home and the smell just hits you in the face. And we have family members that come over and they don't want to stay here because of the smell of the house and you know we have to live here, this is our home, we've been here over 20 years, so we have to stay here, but I don't know it's a serious problem," said Vicki McCann.
Becki Laurent says the smell has been there since she and her family moved in, four years ago. "It was outside in the backyard and we were told by the inspector that it was all over the city because it had been raining a lot that the sewer lines were all flooded that's when it was coming up out of the sewer lines and it was going to go away," said Laurent.
So what is this smell? The Lubbock Assistant Director of Water Utilities Aubrey Spear says all sewer systems generate hydrogen sulfide gas and methane gas, but it's the hydrogen sulfide that is causing the smell. The city says aging sewer lines and aging homes also play a role.
"It is a issue, it's a joint issue that we and the homeowners need to solve together obviously our system is exacerbating some of our problems in that area but they also have a responsibility that they need to make sure their aging structure is working properly," said Spear.
Right now the city is working to put backwater valves on certain sewage pipes to temporarily block some of the smell, while they work towards a more long term solution. The main sewage pipe is a 24 inch pipe that runs down the alley of this neighborhood. A long term solution would be to increase the size of that pipe. "This 24 inch line really needs to be increased to a 30 inch line as we continue to add more homes and businesses to the west it is coming down to these lines to the east," said Spear.
Karen Watson and Catherine Bridges have been staying at their parents' house, and believe the sewage gas could have played a role in their mother's death. "I'm not telling you this is what caused my mother's death, I'm telling you that it created it to be a premature death, because she could not breathe," said Bridges.
Now the good news is, if you can smell hydrogen sulfide, it is at lower concentration levels. The city advises people in this neighborhood to get their pipes checked for cracks, which could also be a part of the smell, but they are hoping to have the new, bigger sewage pipe installed in a few months.
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