9News Investigators: Million dollar sewage problem on Staring Lane

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The 9News Investigators have uncovered that a one million dollar project paid for with tax dollars is flooded with problems again.

The East Baton Rouge City-Parish confirms an underground pipe near the Staring Lane Extension has collapsed, causing raw sewage to pour into the streets. Fixing the problem will cost taxpayers even more.

All it takes is a light drizzle for people who live near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Staring Lane to duck and cover their noses. The streets start flooding, the ditches back up, and something underground appears to get angry. The roads are closed and napkins that are anything but sanitary start floating onto the streets.

"It's just awful. It stinks real bad," Arnette Jones said.

"Every time it rains there's raw sewage down Staring Lane all the way to Burbank. I'm glad I'm not the only one complaining," Carlos Padial, Jr. said.

Owner of Personal Touch Properties, Carlos Padial, Jr., said he has been reporting the problem to the EBR City-Parish Department of Public Works for more than 20 years. Because, Padial said, he can't seem to get someone to fix the problem he has had to take the matter into his own hands to protect his tenants and his investment.

"Many of the buildings we have, we have to take off the sewer covers so it will shoot out of there as opposed to into the house," Padial said.

However, he said the problem got so bad six months ago he had to stop renting out an apartment building in the Gardere neighborhood on Mast Drive.

"We lost all four tenants on Mast because the sewage went into all four units. That particular building is still a problem," Padial said.

Padial said it has been empty for six months costing him an estimated $12,000 in rent.

Jones, who rents an apartment nearby, said her complaints have also fallen on deaf ears. She said she has complained over a dozen times.

"I wish I could do something about it but every time I call to complain nobody does anything. So I just deal with the smell," Jones said.

The Director of Public Works was not available for an interview but the Chief of Wastewater Operations and Maintenance, Amy Schulze, told the 9News Investigators an underground pipe near the sewer plant collapsed six months ago. The city-parish paid one million dollars to fix it, but Schulze said it failed again.

Wastewater sent a video camera through the sewer line to examine it. Schulze said that report, which came in on Friday, indicated another problem underground.

With several more rounds of rain in the forecast, residents said they are bracing for more of the same.

"It's going to stink the next three days, because it's going to be bad," Jones said.

Schulze said it typically takes anywhere from two weeks to a month review the underground footage. She said once they identify where the problem is, it will be addressed.

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