South Side Residents Dealing With Sewer Smell Have Had Enough

Matt Briscoe
The Southside Light

Residents and businesses around the area of Wooldridge and Airline have been dealing with a stinky situation for sometime and as time goes by, they say that the smell is only getting worse and they want something to be done about it.

The smell seems to be coming from a wastewater station situated on Wooldridge on the Southeast side of the intersection. The station has been there for several years but only over the past year or so has the smell become more noticeable--especially to those who live in the area.

Students who attend classes at the nearby  Southern Careers Institute over on Airline say that the smell has become even worse over time and while they may not notice it constantly, the sour smell is there more often than not. Some of the students are just chalking it up to the cost of being near a sewage station, but residents are not buying that. For them, the problem is becoming more serious and they claim that their complaints to the city have fallen on deaf ears.

Henry Cervantes has called the area home for the better half of 15 years and for him the smell is becoming more than just a passing odor. Cervantes claims that he has been in contact with several real estate agents to put his house on the market for sale and often he runs into the same issue--how often do you smell that sewage smell?

“You can’t lie and tell them only rarely because it isn’t,” Henry says. “Just yesterday during the Cowboys game it was so bad that we had to go inside.”

Cervantes says that the smell for him is an almost daily occurrence and that it has not always been that way. In fact, he notes that the smell has gotten worse over the past 2 years or so.

“It is embarrassing when people come over to your house and they say that your home smell like [expletive],” Cervantes said on Monday. But what can he do?

His neighbors said that they have placed repeated calls to the city so far all they have gotten is a bunch of talk. Everything from a collapsed sewer line to a change in the wind direction. But, these residents believe that there is more to the story than they city is letting on.

The city gets a lot of complaints about odors coming from sewer lines and pump stations and they claim that they have been working diligently to address those and other sewage issues around the city. But the extent seems to be simply using a commercially available deodorizer, occasionally tossed into the mix that helps control the smell. But city workers that we spoke with admit that while there is more that could be done, it costs money and that in and of itself is often times the biggest hangup with problems like these.

One would think that the city is doing what they can to control the problem with the odor. There's a building on-site that you would think would hold the equipment to operate the pump station. At one point, we noticed a tub of Bioxide that is used to treat the hydrogen sulfide, which in part creates the foul smell, sitting outside of the building behind a fence, indicating that at least somebody may have been doing at least something. But is it enough?

On Monday we called the city who said that they had put in a work order for the station and we were told that they would attempt to go and place more deodorizer on the problem. They also indicated that they would actually look for a possible collapsed pipe, which with all of the construction could be a logical explanation. But what about the past several years of the stinch?

One would think that a busted pipe would not go unnoticed for that long and you'd probably be right. The city conducts occasional checks, but those are not always on point. Residents maintain that it goes back to odor control and they want something done about it.

Another big problem is along Ennis Joslin and Nile near Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. A student housing facility located just down the road from the wastewater plant is often inundated with the smell of rotten eggs and human waste. Students and residents have complained for years there, as well and still the problem seems to go unfixed.

“They think we won’t notice the difference between bay smell and sewage,” says student Clay Johnson. “It smells horrible and I do not think it is just a passing problem.”

As far as what is happening over on Wooldridge, Cervantes is not overly optimistic that the big stink will just up and go away. “My neighbors and I pay our water bill and we pay our taxes and we should not have to deal with this constant stink that the city could do more to control,” Cervantes says. “I guess we can only hope that they are listening and that they will do something.”


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