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City of Bixby responds to neighborhood's complaints over sewage leak

Bixby sewage leak
Posted at 4:13 PM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 19:26:32-04

BIXBY, Okla. — Neighbors in Bixby say they are desperate for relief after sewage started leaking down their street.

This is happening in the Seven Lakes addition just south of 121st and Sheridan. Calls to the City of Bixby, the Tulsa Health Department and the builder didn't seem to fix the problem.

Neighbor Blake Brewer says he will never forget the day he stepped outside his home and was hit with the terrible smell.

"I know there was a day when we started smelling some funky stuff outside our house and we went and looked outside and saw what looked like raw sewage," says Brewer.

"The whole street and everyone around here can smell it and it's pretty gross."

He says he was stunned to see green sludge oozing out of the ground. Brewer says he's concerned the sewage is creating a hazardous, environment.

"I have a six, four and 20-month-old and every day we go outside and play, and I say, 'Hey you cannot go over there across the street and play in the sewage,' and I'm also thinking of how the sewage is going down the drain and ending up in the Arkansas River," he says.

The problem area sits right in front of Cynthia Ruiz's home. She says she moved into the home in January 2021, and this has been an ongoing issue since then not only outside, but inside as well.

"Whenever we would all shower at the same time, the water started leaking out of my toilet in the master bedroom and it was just sewer water," says Ruiz.

She says she contacted the builder and owner of the home, Daniel Ruhl of Ruhl Construction and spoke with a member of his team.

"He said that was something we had caused by putting the toilet paper and the wet wipes down, but it was the same issue within two weeks that we moved in," she says.

At that point, she says it wasn't clear who was at fault.

"The city was blaming Daniel and Daniel was blaming the city, but I think it was Daniel that ended up fixing it and they had to dig a big manhole in my neighbor's front yard," she says.

Ruiz says that the initial fix was only a band aide and reared its ugly head again. We reached out to the City of Bixby, and they sent 2 News Oklahoma this statement:

"The City of Bixby is aware of the issue at 7061 E. 125 St. South and continues to work with all parties to effect a resolution as soon as possible. During its construction, the sewer service line connections from 7061 E. 125th St. South and 7080 E. 125th St. South to the City sanitary sewer collection system were joined into a single tap. Therefore, the City provided a new, separate connection for 7080 E. 125th St., disconnecting it from the line installed by the builder of 7061 E. 125th St. South.

When back-ups were reported to the City, Staff advised both the resident and the property owner at 7061 E. 125th St. South that the responsibility for addressing the private service line issues lay with the private parties involved. Both were also advised that the issue must be addressed immediately. At this time, the civil responsibility for the service line appeared to be in dispute between the resident and the property owner. Therefore, the matter was referred to Code Enforcement. In addition, the Tulsa County Health Department has been in contact with City Staff regarding the sewer service.

The City of Bixby recognizes the frustration related to the issue and is continuing to take the steps necessary to resolve the situation."

City crews showed up the same day we contacted them. The Tulsa County Health Department also placed a notice on Cynthia's home giving five days to fix the problem.

After we reached out to Ruhl, we learned he sent crews out to investigate. Ruhl says once his team began looking at the problem, they discovered it was clogged with what could be described as towels or wet wipes.

Although he denies doing anything on his part as the builder to cause the issue, Ruhl is currently working to get the problem resolved.

"So, it took the news to get them moving, but ultimately, I'm just grateful that you guys are covering this story and grateful that things are starting to happen and hopefully, they get to the bottom of it," says Brewer.

Ruhl Construction had crews back out at the site again Friday morning.

He tells 2 News that they are digging up the line because there appears to be some type of foreign object they can't clear with the auger. A spokesman for the City of Bixby says the line owner has identified the issue and repairs are underway.


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