"What's up with that?" - Highway 280 smell

On Focus at Four, we ask our viewers to send us questions to something they want to know about. We call it, "What's Up With That?".

Our latest "what's up with that?" question comes from Donna Lucas Tonnemacher, who asks, "what's up with the strong sewer odor on Highway 280 between Home Depot and Superior Grill".

Josh Caldwell describes the smell he and others can't help but notice.

Caldwell works at the Firestone car repair shop on Highway 280 across from the Cahaba River.

"Someday's it's good, someday's it's bad, it just smells like a sewage plant running," Caldwell says. "It smells like straight sewage, there's no other way to describe it. It is appalling, even when you get as closeas we are you can't breath."

Beth Stewart, director of the Cahaba River Society, says a wastewater pump station near the river and run by Southwest Water Company is the culprit. "There's a pump station, near this location, that emits sewer odors, on a frequent basis, just normally in the operation of it," says Stewart. "That pump station, on occasions and with heavy rains, has overflowed, and there is a root problem that needs to be addressed to upgrade that sewer system."When Focus at Four contacted Southwest Water Company over the phone, a spokesperson denied claims that the station and surrounding manholes overflow on a regular basis.

But according to Caldwell, who works within 100 yards of one of the manholes, "It happens at least two to three times a month."Photos taken and sent to focus at four by a concerned citizen shows debris around manhole covers on both sides of Highway 280.

A statement from Southwest Water Company states:

"SouthWest Water has not received any other calls regarding this site, and we have inspected it and see no evidence of any recent overflow. The last overflow we have on record is a minor event that occurred nearly two months ago, which was immediately cleaned up and treated with limestone. SouthWest Water Company takes every precaution to keep overflows and odors to a minimum and to immediately respond when one occurs. Residents are encouraged to report any such issues to SouthWest Water's toll-free 24-hour hotline at 800.844.8350."