Residents fed up with raw sewage piling up at Richmond apartment complex

Taking Action

"The smell isn't going to allow you to miss it anyway."

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Residents are fed up and asking for help as a plumbing issue continues to make raw sewage pile up at a Richmond apartment complex. The problem is bringing a mess to the Belt Atlantic Apartments and causing health concerns for the people living there.

Those who live at the apartments told 8News the smell of raw sewage can’t be missed and that it’s been going on for weeks. The company that owns the apartment complex says the pipes have severe blockages that were most likely caused by things being put down the drains that shouldn’t have been.

“You can actually see the toilet paper, the feces,” one resident, Lasharnda Moatt, said.

Raw sewage covers the ground outside the Belt Atlantic Apartments, formerly known as Midlothian Village, where Moatt has lived for seven years. She said the same plumbing issue happened this past summer and came back a few weeks ago.

“I live on the second floor. As soon as you walk down it’s right there,” Moatt explained. “The smell isn’t going to allow you to miss it anyway.”

Moatt was told by an employee in the leasing office that the City of Richmond was responsible for fixing the issue. A spokesperson for the Richmond Department of Public Utilities confirmed to 8News the apartments are not city-owned nor maintained.

According to Moatt, the sewage sat on the ground for about three weeks before she noticed the first plumbing crews over the weekend.

“From my understanding, it’s the sewage, the waste from the building that’s actually coming out to the ground, at one point it was actually going into the apartments,” she claimed.

Community Preservation Partners bought and renovated the apartments in 2018. In a statement, the California-based company said “they’re aware of the issue and have mobilized a leadership team to the community to evaluate and address it.”

Seth Gellis, a spokesperson for Community Preservation Partners, told 8News he became aware of the issue Sunday and that crews brought in the necessary equipment to clean the blockages and the mess on Monday. They now plan to jet the pipes four times per year instead of twice per year, as they did previously.

Gellis said they also plan to educate residents on what can and cannot go down the drain to prevent it from happening in the future. For residents, the problem is more than just a filthy smell.

“It’s a health issue,” Moatt said, “Outside of the smell and embarrassment, it’s kind of degrading, but you have bacteria. Like it’s human waste. I think if it was addressed and dealt with back then, we wouldn’t have any of these problems now.”

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