The city of Sulphur and the state Department of Environmental Quality are investigating an apartment complex for the illegal discharge of raw sewage. Mayor Chris Duncan said the city was informed by a tenant at Parkway Apartments, 210 N. Beglis Parkway, that raw sewage has been discharged on the property for about five months without apartment supervisors taking any action. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, March 14, 2013 7:24 PM
SULPHUR — The city of Sulphur and the state Department of Environmental Quality are investigating an apartment complex for the illegal discharge of raw sewage.
Mayor Chris Duncan said the city was informed by a tenant at Parkway Apartments, 210 N. Beglis Parkway, that raw sewage has been discharged on the property for about five months without apartment supervisors taking any action.
Duncan said the tenant informed him via email that “there is a serious problem here with the sewer; it’s always backing up in and around the apartments and on the grounds of the complex ... there is raw human waste on the ground. ... Many of the tenants have complained more than a few times. The sewage has gotten so bad that the entire complex is now surrounded by raw sewage.”
Danny Dupre, Sulphur fire chief, said city crews went to the site Monday morning and gave management a 48-hour window to correct the problem, but as of late Thursday afternoon it still existed.
“The mayor and I went out there again after the 48-hour notification and the problem was still there so we made some phone calls Wednesday afternoon for (management) to meet us there Thursday morning to discuss further action,” he said.
Dupre said Thursday the complex was issued a citation that is compoundable daily — every day there is a violation, another citation is issued. Duncan was uncertain Thursday evening how much the citations were for.
“A kid walked up to the mayor and asked what he was doing there and the mayor said ‘we came to make things better for y’all,’” Dupre said. “The little kid said ‘y’all are going to clean it up so we can play again?’ Even these kids know this is a problem.”
Duncan said every time he has visited the property since being notified of the problem children have been playing around the sewage.
“Residents are coming out and telling us horror stories while we are there; this is serious,” he said. “Watching little kids going out there and playing in and around it is heartbreaking. These kids are out there with fish nets trying to catch minnows that are swimming in sewage. No one should have to live in these kinds of conditions.”
Duncan said the same situation occurred at Parkway Apartments in 2010 and the city had to “take aggressive action” then.
“We try to inspect these things as much as we can,” Dupre said. “These are people’s homes; they don’t have to live like that but a lot of the apartments are hard to inspect until we get a complaint.”
Duncan said in a situation like this, residents should not wait for a response from management but should immediately contact City Hall.
“Legally, we could have turned off the water to the apartments until they fixed the problem,” Duncan said. “But that means 24 apartments without water; we just can’t do that to that many people.”
Dupre said the city could shut the complex down if the problems persists, but “it would be a last resort because of how many families would be affected.”
DEQ is also investigating the matter as well to ensure that clean-up is done correctly and that there isn’t any remaining discharge of sewage on the property, Dupre said.
Scott Wilkerson, DEQ supervisor for Southwest Louisiana, said DEQ received a complaint Thursday morning and has begun investigating the complex for illegal discharge of sewage.
Mac-Re LLC, property manager out of New Orleans for the complex, did not return request for comments and apartment supervisor Brenda Webb declined comment.
Posted By: Margo Darbonne On: 3/15/2013
Title: Pushing the Blame
I just left these apartments visiting a tenant. I have in my hands a letter the apartment complex gave them stateing
Please DO NOT put diapers, wipes of any kind, toys or any other foreign objects,down any of the drains (including toilet, lavatory, bathtub or kitchen sink!!)
Each time we call someone out to clean out the grease traps or drain lines, operating cost goes up and this will in turn cause the rent to increase.
If we continue to find objects or excessive grease in the sewer lines we will be forced to issue lease violations to all tenants of the affected building, which could result in damage charges or lease termination if it continues to be a problem.
We appreciate your cooperation in helping us keep the drains running freely!
I know for a fact the problem has been reported to all the different managers when they were there. At times the last year there has been no one here.
This is a low income apartment complex and many complaints go unanswered. The tenants have no where else to go so they must rely on the apartment complex management to take care of the problems. They are in fear to go to the authorities for fear of retaliation of being evicted.
I guess if the apartment burns then they will blame the tenants once again even though they have begged that the drier vents to please get cleaned out. The one building I know several people in the vents has not been cleaned in at least 7 years. The excuse is they do not have a clean out that will reach through the whole building.
I really feel sorry for the ones that must live like this. I am so thankful now for what I do have and hope and pray I will never have to rely on this kind of living conditions
Posted By: lhsgrad On: 3/15/2013
Title: Aggressive Action
The City of Sulphur took "aggressive action" in 2010 and the problem exists today? None of the City Fathers have ever heard of follow up? There's no way this can be considered acceptable!