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Raw sewage spilling out in front of businesses in Lakeview strip mall

Imagine you're using the bathroom, and once you flush everything leaks out of the pipes! That's what's plaguing local businesses... among other water issues.

NEW ORLEANS — A clogged, leaky, sewer line has some businesses in Lakeview frustrated.

Add that to a running water main just feet away, and you're not going to believe how long the not-so-pleasant situation has been going on.

One of the businesses in the building hasn't been able to use the bathrooms for weeks, and now that the sewer line access is open, when they do use the bathrooms, the waste ends up, moments later, out in the open.

“Human waste, feminine products, just use your imagination,” Errolyn Letellier, the Lupo Enterprises Financial Accountant said.

“We frequently have people say, ‘What's that smell, or you know, or once they walked here, or walk into my business, they're like, ‘Oh, it smells fantastic in here,’” Elizabeth Joachim, owner of Fleur-de-Lis Nutrition said.

“There's just toilet paper, and you know, a few other things stuck to the ground that, and the smell, awful. And walking into the grocery store, it's really not ideal,” Keith Huber, Maintenance Supervisor and Safety Inspector for Lupo Enterprises said.

“The smell is horrible. The hotter it is outside, the worse the smell is,” Letellier said.

For one month now, people who work in the building on Allen Toussaint off of West End, have reported a sewer line backup and leak to the Sewerage and Water Board.

And for nearly two decades -- since before Hurricane Katrina -- they have been reporting a water main break flowing and wasting clean water, inside a storm drain just feet away.

“We are constantly calling, every day, making new reports. I'm not getting any update as far as where the repair stands,” Letellier said.

Sewerage and Water Board workers came out to look. They put an orange mark on the concrete, that is now fading away. They said a two-day emergency work order was filed. That was two weeks ago.

“They left everything open, and didn't put any cones out, or anything, so we had to get our own stuff, and take things into our own hands,” Huber said.

When asked if cleaning up raw sewage was in his job description, he replied, “No, I got way better things I could be doing right now.”

So, every day, three times a day, they douse the area with strong, concentrated cleaners, and disinfectants, and several hoses. That smelly waste water mixes with the broken pipe clean water, that's just being wasted, and goes into the lake via the storm drain. They've had a private sewer line company come out with cameras on long tubes for inspections. They found that the sewer line is blocked with mud and rocks.

“We can't fix it. This is a public street. We can't fix it. It has to be done by Sewerage and Water Board. So, if it were up to us, it would have been fixed already,” Letellier said.

And the owner of the building has even called the 811 underground utility operators line for the Sewerage and Water Board, taking away that step for them before they can dig.

We talked to the Sewerage and Water Board a few times today. Staff is looking into the situation and say they will get back to us about what the problem is.

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