Bartlesville Woman Outraged As Raw Sewage Pours Onto Her Property

Thursday, June 17th 2021, 9:20 pm
By: Kristen Weaver


A woman who owns property in Bartlesville is outraged because raw sewage is pouring onto her land and affecting her entire neighborhood.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality discovered the city has been spilling sewage since at least 2017 in several locations.

Kelly Zimmerman said raw sewage has been running through her 80-acre property for more than a year and she's desperate for things to change.

"This is a family-owned property for 55 years," said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman lives in Washington D.C. but is in Bartlesville often to check on her 80-acre oil lease and farm. She said more than a year ago, she was told about some flooding and a horrible smell on the property.

"My contractor finds this easement was overgrown, and water and a smell were coming from this direction," she said.

Zimmerman said she discovered a manhole leaking raw sewage all over her property and through the neighborhood.

"When it rains, it collects diapers, needles, feminine products," she said. "We pay our contractors to pick that up. These are biohazards."

Zimmerman said it's because the city's sewage infrastructure is outdated. The city council recently voted to upgrade it, but it will take several years. 

A DEQ consent order was issued last year, which lists more than 100 "Unpermitted Discharges" from the city's water system throughout the city over a two-year period.

The order said all those spills are a possible environmental hazard.

Zimmerman said she and her daughter were both diagnosed with lymphoma after years on the property and she thinks it's related. She is now filing a lawsuit against the city and asking people to join with them.

"Our goal is to get it stop and get this infrastructure updated," said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman recently opened a nonprofit on her property to let kids learn about energy and agriculture. She hopes to see everything cleaned up so people can come enjoy the land.

The city said they can't comment due to the pending lawsuit, but the DEQ said the city is now compliant in that consent order.