LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)– Raw sewage spilled into the Vermilion River after the previous owners of the Riverside at Oakbourne apartments disconnected the electricity from the sewage pumps, according to the current owners, Servio Capital.
Servio Capital initially took ownership of Riverside at Oakbourne earlier in the year. Servio says the company received notice of the issue at the apartments on Friday and “immediately took action to discover the source of the issue.”
Servio says further investigation uncovered that the previous owners disconnected the utilities to the parking lot and maintenance shed before the company could receive proper permits through the fire marshal to change the electricity to its name.
“Communication via text between our property manager and the previous owner’s bookkeeper indicates that the turning off of the power on their part was accidental and unintentional timing with the electric company,” said Servio in a statement.
Parish Councilmember A.B. Rubin said he received calls, text messages, and videos from residents of sewage spilling into the Vermilion river early Monday morning.
“To be quite frankly, it was pretty disgusting,” he said.
Greg Langley, the press secretary of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, adds, “There was also a private lift station there which is a sewage component that pumps the sewage over into the city line from the apartment, so when he had the outside lights turned off, the power was interrupted to that lift station which causes it to back up.”
He continues, “They went to see what the problem was to clean it out, and they had a clean-up valve which they could open to clear a clogged, and that’s what they did, and so when they did that, the sewage just flowed out of that line onto the ground and onto the Vermilion River.”
According to Servio, their maintenance personnel made attempts to unclog the clean-up valve on Saturday afternoon, and thought it was fixed because the flow from the valve had stopped. On-site maintenance also cleaned up sewage debris on Monday evening.
Langley says the amount of water in the river should dilute the sewage. However, they are unsure if this leakage would result in any long-term problems. Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is looking into the incident, but Langley is not sure if the investigation will include water quality.
Langley said they issued a notice of deficiency and that will be processed, and if it is appropriate, it would be referred to enforcement, and at that point, it would determine if there would be any consequences.
Councilman Rubin said the company got some electricity going and got the sewage pumps working again. Servio says this is a temporary solution until utilities can be transferred.
“One thing that I want people to understand is that this particular owner of this property they just inherited this property, and there are some knicks that they inherited that they didn’t realize that they were going to encounter,” said Rubin.
“The new owner has been putting in a lot of money. I went personally to see that they’re spending a great deal of money to get this facility up and running, and there’s going to be some problems here and there,” he added.
Rubin appreciates the company for allowing the residents to stay there until they can get their living quarters situated and for taking care of all the little problems that are going on around there. He said he is excited to see the end result of the apartment complex.