Harris County

Harris County files lawsuit against apartment complex with high levels of E. coli

The county will continue to keep watch for any other areas experiencing similar unsafe living conditions, Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said.

Christian Menefee
Courtesy Photo
Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee.

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee has announced a lawsuit against a North Harris County apartment complex he says has been neglecting to maintain and provide functioning sewer pipes properly.

Menefee said the county's Pollution Control investigators have found high levels of E. coli surrounding the Palms on Rolling Creek complex.

"We're talking about fecal matter with E. coli levels so high that it's basically the same as if it were in the toilet," he said. "Nobody, whether they be an adult, a kid, regardless of their zip code or what side of town they're on, nobody should have to walk through this stuff just to get to their car or even have it outside of their home."

E. coli is a bacteria found in the intestines of people and animals, according to the CDC. Symptoms of exposure can include diarrhea, respiratory illness, and various infections.

Residents first started submitting complaints in 2019, according to Menefee. He said complaints talked about fecal matter, toilet paper, and other items flowing into storm drains around the building.

Menefee said he has seen an increase in property owners who are ignoring the safety of their tenants.

"We've seen over the past couple of years particularly egregious apartment complex owners who are taking advantage of tenants who are refusing to ensure that their tenants have a safe, healthy environment that they live in," he said.

Data from Houston Public Health shows about 22% of households live below the poverty level in the zip code where the complex is located. By comparison, the median percentage throughout various Houston-area zip codes was 12%.

Menefee said he and the county will continue to keep watch for any other areas experiencing similar unsafe living conditions. Globix Palms Rolling LLC, the company that owns the complex, has not responded to a request for comment.