Sinkhole tied to water problems for woman living in Boston-Edison Historic District neighborhood

City says it’s up to her to pay for repairs

A Detroit homeowner says she's had water problems for months, and it's all tied to the sinkhole seen in the video player above. She says using the bath, toilets, or doing laundry has become an issue. Last summer, the sinkhole first popped up in an alley near her home on Edison Street in Detroit's historic Boston-Edison neighborhood.

DETROIT – A homeowner living in the Boston-Edison area says a sinkhole has led to her having water issues in her home. The city, however, is saying they’re not at fault.

Helen Gales says she can’t use the restroom, wash clothes, or take random showers because of a sinkhole on her sewer line.

“We went to flush the toilet, and we’re like, ok, why isn’t it going out,” said Gales. “We can take showers, but we have to alternate days.”

The Issue started in August of 2021, but it became significantly worse in January, not allowing her to use water in her own home properly.

“It’s been very frustrating that I live in this gorgeous area, have a nice beautiful house, and I’m roughing it like I’m camping,” Gales said.

However, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department say the sinkhole is not causing the problem, but instead, the problem is causing the sinkhole.

It’s all due to the clay pipes going bad.

“Essentially, their sewer line connected to the public sewer is sinking off our public sewer, so it’s causing sewage to go in underground, and it’s causing the alley to sink,” said Bryan Peckinpaugh with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

“They said there’s probably 50 something sink holes in the Historic Boston-Edison that we’ve been trying to get fixed,” Gales said. “I mean, the alleys are degrading, and they’re causing this problem.”

If that’s true, ultimately, the city will fix the problem. Unfortunately, it’s believed that Gales is responsible for the $20,000 repair in this case. Until that happens, the sinkholes are being filled and covered.

Gales says it’s not just about her but the overall safety of the neighborhood.

“We’ve got children in the area,” Gales said. “We’ve got animals in the area. If somebody falls into that, who knows.”

Obviously, Gales is looking to find ways to fix the problem. To help prevent other homeowners from the city is working on a Sewer line warranty program coming up this spring.

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.