Even with the windows up, the smell finds its way into the car.
When she’s driving along Worthsville Road, an odor of sewage forces Wendy Perkinson to pull the collar of her shirt over her mouth and nose.
The odor has lingered for more than a month in that area, and it’s especially potent in the Sweetgrass and Central Park subdivisions, residents said.
Story continues below gallery
“It’s a very heavy sewer or septic smell,” Perkinson said. “The smell is more concentrated near the railroad tracks, but I would say when I’m anywhere along Worthsville Road, it’s extremely strong most of the time.”
The source of the smell is a nearby sewer lift station, which moves wastewater from lower to higher ground. Greenwood city officials are looking into ways to make the smell less noticeable, but the odor is common this time of year, so eliminating it is unlikely, stormwater superintendent Keith Meier said.
Odor is a normal part of operations at the lift station, located off Worthsville Road near 84 Lumber. Nothing is broken or backed up, and the department hasn’t received any complaints about the odor, Meier said.
Meier and other sanitation employees are at the lift station two to three times a week to check on the wastewater system and to perform regular maintenance, such as cleaning out the channels. Keeping the odor of sewage down is one of the main focuses, Meier said.
“It’s sewage. It is what it is. And we routinely clean the station on a regular schedule; and when it needs additional cleaning, we clean it down,” Meier said. “If it needs cleaned outside its regular schedule, we do it.”
The smell is caused by build-up on the water channels in the system, Meier said. Crews hose down the channels, but within about a week the build-up returns. So the city is looking into different ways to address that issue, including alternative cleaning methods, such as a drip system that would mix a chemical in with the waste water and break down the build-up, Meier said.
Water channels were hosed down as recently as last week; but in the past two years, workers haven’t been able to clean them as routinely as they’d like, leading to more of an odor, Meier said.
“You have to do proper maintenance and maintain a schedule washing down the structure and wet walls. But with Worthsville Road closed for about two years, that put a little damper on our maintenance,” Meier said. “Access to the station has limited us to get the proper equipment in.”
The stench has been more noticeable since construction on Worthsville Road began, said Randy Goodin, who lives in the Central Park subdivision and heads a community group called the Concerned Citizens of Southeast Greenwood. Neighbors have brought up the odor at previous meetings and on social media, he said.
Driving by the lift station used to be the only time Perkinson and Goodin would get a whiff of the odor. Now, they smell it outside around their subdivision and farther east on Worthsville Road.
“I would say it’s a pretty big issue. My concern is there’s something there that needs to be taken care of. This could be a detriment to property value,” Perkinson said. “If I was looking for a new house and I knew I had to live around that smell, drive through it every day — forget it. I wouldn’t move here.”
Climate has a lot to do with the odor, Meier said.
In the winter, employees of Endress+Hauser, which is just south of the lift station, notice the smell more, Vice President Todd Hubbell said.
“You can notice the smell coming from the lift station this time of year. It’s not uncommon,” Hubbell said. “I assume it has something to do with the season, no leaves on the trees, nothing to block the wind. When you drive down Worthsville you can smell it, it’s definitely there.”