Wellington City Council has apologised to an elderly couple who have been forced to walk a plank to escape raw sewage in their backyard during heavy rain.
Patricia and her husband Pat O'Neill have spent 17 years battling poo every time they need to leave their state home in Strathmore Park in a downpour.
The 86-year-old grandmother of six said the problem was with a waste water manhole at the back of the property next door.
It sits on a slight hill and every time there's a downpour it overflows, sending a torrent of the sewage water straight into their back and front yards.
"It's just sludge, thick sludge, faeces, mixed up with urine, plus toilet paper. We go round the lawn and have to pick it up ... You should see what I pick out of there sometimes with gloves on, it's revolting," she said.
Sometimes the waste water would get as high as half a metre, making it hard for her to leave the house.
"My husband used to put three planks from the bottom step to the gate so I could pull my slacks up and wade through it to the car, but we don't do that now - if we've got a doctor's appointment, we'll just ring up and cancel it. We're stuck inside here."
Mrs O'Neill said she exhausted all avenues to try to fix the problem, going to the council, Housing New Zealand, Wellington Water and other agencies to get help.
Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said a communication error was likely to blame for the delay.
"Maybe in the past they have managed to talk to people at the city council or at Housing New Zealand, but there clearly has been a breakdown in communication if that's happened, because our formal records only tell us that we were called after some heavy rain last November," he said.
The council was looking at its record keeping with Housing New Zealand and Wellington Water, to see whether the couple's complaints had been properly logged.
He said the council visited the couple last week and bolted down the manhole lid to stop it from overflowing.
The council and Wellington Water are now working to find a more permanent solution.
"If indeed this problem has been happening regularly for the last 17 years, everyone agreed that that's completely unacceptable, which is why we're putting our engineers on the task now," Mr MacLean.
Housing New Zealand has offered the couple a home while a permanent solution is being worked on.