Neighbors complained Tuesday of foul odor and raw sewage leaking since last week from the Arawak Apartments on Nogales Drive near Webb Chapel Road in Northwest Dallas.
Civil Engineer Tom Witherspoon visited the site Tuesday and said the odor makes it clear that standing water on the street is raw sewage.
“Just walking past it you can tell this is sewage,” he said. “This is awful.”
A pool of the dark water accumulated in front of Sheri Derringer’s home down the street. She worried about vehicles driving through it and kids walking in it.
“If they’re stepping in that and tracking it in, it’s just not working for anybody if they’re not going to fix it,” Derringer said.
Apartment Manger Catalina Del Toro confirmed that the leak began Thursday. She said plumbers thought it was fixed Friday, but the leak continued so they used a camera in the line to discover a broken sewer pipe. It leaked through the weekend and digging began Monday morning to replace the broken pipe.
Del Toro said water supply to the complex was shut off Monday morning but restored Monday evening for tenants who stayed in their apartments throughout the sewage leak. She said plumbers pumped water from the leak area Monday but turning the water back on for tenants Monday night only sent more sewage through the leak to pump out again on Tuesday when the water supply was cut off again for repairs.
“The right approach is they should have put people up in a motel room like Atmos energy did when they had a problem,” Witherspoon said.
The same neighborhood was recently involved in the massive Atmos Energy gas line replacement.
Witherspoon said turning off the water and moving tenants out would have allowed plumbers to make necessary repairs more rapidly without more water entering the sewage lines and spilling in the street.
He said leaking sewage should also have been contained at the site, by pumping it into storage tanks, instead of into the street.
“It’s a doable thing and they should have done that rather than pollute our streets,” Witherspoon said. “It’s unsafe for the neighborhood.”
After NBC5 contacted the City of Dallas about the situation Tuesday, a Dallas City Code Inspector and people from Dallas Water Utilities and Storm Water Management were seen at the complex.
Del Toro confirmed late Tuesday that repairs have not been finished.
City of Dallas spokesperson Nichelle Sullivan issued a statement saying the complex received a Notice of Violation for substandard structure to require repair. The statement said from this point forward, a septic cleaning truck will be connected at the site to contain sewage as repairs continue.
"The apartment complex is making diligent efforts at repair and is being cooperative with the City," the statement said.