Leaking septic system becoming legal matter at Lehigh Acres home

Published: June 22, 2021 4:51 PM EDT
Updated: June 22, 2021 6:46 PM EDT

A home in Southwest Florida has been a smelly nuisance to immediate neighbors for almost a year. The health department has become involved and a lack of response from the homeowners is forcing the hand of health officials to make it a legal matter.

Florida Department of Health in Lee County says homeowners of a house in Lehigh Acres are responsible for an odor that is not well met by nearby neighbors. DOH-Lee says the cause is due to a leaking septic system at the home.

“You can smell it for miles,” said neighbor Dagoberto Amador.

DOH-Lee is in the process of getting the courts involved to bring a solution to the matter. The health department wants a judge to require the homeowners to repair and clean up their property.

“It’s like having six or seven toilets open because the pool that’s there, you know, that big huge pool that they got,” Amador explained.

Amador said his neighbors across the street have an issue with their septic tank and it has persisted since July 2020.

“And then he dug a ditch all the way out to the main ditch next to the road, so that all these excretions, all the garbage, come out,” Amador said.

DOH-Lee has visited the home several times to issue citations, but there has not been noticeable cooperation from the homeowners.

“The smell gets really heavy right after dinner, I guess when they all start using the bathroom,” Amador said. “And it seems to be quite a few people over in there.”

DOH-Lee on May 11 began to issue the homeowners citations on a daily basis, with $22,000 in fines having accrued since.

We tried to speak to the homeowners but were not able to reach them.

If the homeowners don’t begin to cooperate, DOH-Lee wants a judge to declare the property uninhabitable and ask the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to make sure it remains vacant.

“We like to have our Easter egg hunt here for the great-grandchildren, the grandchildren,” Amador said. “And that was interrupted because the smell was so bad. Everybody had to go home earlier. They couldn’t take it anymore.”