Here’s the pungent wastewater that’s been flowing through a Swamplot reader’s backyard on Stoney Creek Dr. for just over a month, according to the homeowner. The waterway pictured above — dubbed Ditch #W-151 by Harris County Flood Control — parallels Gessner on its way south from Memorial City Mall, passing through portions of Bunker Hill Village and Whispering Oaks before emptying into Buffalo Bayou. For about 3 quarters of a mile along that stretch, the ditch cuts through the backyards of homes on Stoney Creek, where owners have complained about this and similar movements in the past.
Residents suspect the issue might have to do with the sewer repair work now underway at multiple sites upstream from their neighborhood. The photo below shows a temporary pump conducting liquids across Plantation Rd., just south of Memorial City Mall’s frontage along Barryknoll:
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WHERE YESTERDAY’S SEWAGE OVERFLOWS FLOWED Yesterday’s floodwater caused diluted sewage releases from the 69th St. Wastewater Treatment Plant, located near the crossing of 69th St. over Buffalo Bayou (just upstream from the new Buffalo Bend Nature Park and the Port of Houston Turning Basin). Houston Public Media notes the city’s rundown on where and how much: “The estimated volume of released wastewater as of 6 p.m. Wednesday was approximately 500,000 gallons at Halls Bayou at US 59 at Parker Rd.; approximately 160,000 gallons at White Oak Bayou Near Interstate 45 N. at Wrightwood St.; and approximately 500,000 gallons at Buffalo Bayou near the University of Houston Downtown, officials said.” The city also says anybody using their own private water wells in those areas should get them checked out (and boil water in the meanwhile). The 69th St. plant is the city’s largest wastewater facility, as well as a production site of Hou-Actinite fertilizer. [Houston Public Media; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 69th St. Wastewater Treatment Plant: Webber
COMMENT OF THE DAY: FLUSHING OUT CONTRIBUTORS TO HOUSTON’S UNEQUAL SEWAGE DISTRIBUTION “Resources should be allocated based on ‘worst first’. It’s very likely that areas of wealth are also areas of redevelopment and thus, improvement — whereas poorer areas are stagnant and don’t get the same type of improvement because there is no investment out there. I know when I’ve tried to invest in a rough area, the city shit on my face. So I’ve backed down quite a bit. My guess is that people smarter than me stopped well before I did.” [Cody, commenting on Houston’s Poor and Minority Neighborhoods Literally Deal with More Shit, City Data Shows] Illustration: Lulu
The larger the dot in the interactive map above, the more frequently the surrounding ZIP code deals with sewage overflows, per to the city’s tally of sewage spills between 2009 and 2014. The map, put together by Rachael Gleason with data prepped by John Harden and Mike Morris, goes along with Morris’s update in the Chronicle this weekend on the city of Houston’s ongoing negotiations with the EPA over what to do about the city’s sewage-related water quality issues, with the estimated cost of required infrastructure upgrades and education programs on the horizon currently hanging out in the neighborhood of $5 billion dollars.
The Chronicle’s analysis also notes that most of the areas with above-average sewage spill rates are home to above-average poverty rates, as well as above-average proportions of black and Hispanic residents than the city as a whole. The map above allows readers to superimpose the spill numbers over each ZIP code’s median income and poverty rate (you’ll have to look elsewhere for maps backing up the other claim, though). Another map released earlier this summer pinpoints more precisely the spots where the sewage flows most freely — areas in purple below have seen a minimum of 45 documented sewage spills in the 5-year data period:
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Sniffing Out the Cause