A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Think About the Stink


After what seemed like an infinite amount of time hearing, “I’m sorry I haven’t been authorized for this”, “No comment”, and “That’s not my department, let me get you someone else”, along with 4 hours and 26 minutes on hold and 12 transfers, some questions regarding Greenway’s unique smells were finally answered.

No one from the City of Phoenix was able to answer questions about the number of calls and complaints the city has received, but there were some answers to why Greenway Road smells so bad. The sewer lines in Phoenix run directly under main streets such as Greenway, so if there was any kind of problem, that’s exactly where it would be smelt. The lines are also not as large as people typically think. Although in some places, such as the East Coast, they are extremely large, Phoenix is home to sewers that are only 60 inches wide.

Although Greenway Road seems to constantly have a stench, especially in the afternoon heat, the city has confirmed that there is nothing wrong with the sewers. “We run routine checks to make sure nothing is getting clogged and whenever there are any complaints from residents. We send out a crew to check the areas as soon as we can get to it,” Andrew from the Phoenix sewage water treatment plant said.

Greenway’s own head of maintenance Mr. Perdue said that he has called the city to inquire about the smell before. “There is always a smell on 39th. It’s because in the morning everyones waking up and taking showers, cooking going to the bathroom, and this washes everything into the sewer. It’s typically worse in the afternoon when it’s hot and just sitting in the main hub of 39th.”

“On campus we really have no idea where the smell is coming from. It may be the city sewage connecting to our lines. There is also the possibility that the peat trap [the curved part of a pipe like under a sink] is drying out and releasing a sulfur smell. The maintenance crew tries to keep them moist, but every once in a while those which are not used often get dried out,” Mr. Perdue said.

Greenway Road can certainly smell very bad, but there are also some places on campus that many students are all too happy to avoid because of the smell.

“Basically it is all of the bathrooms that smell really bad. Duh, they’re bathrooms: what would anyone expect?” Sophomore Vivian Hernandez said. “But there are some places, like the history building, that on the inside smell pretty bad like sewage sometimes. I haven’t changed the way I walk to any of my classes because I can usually get by the smell quickly, but sometimes when I’m trying to go to the bathroom and someone just bombed it, I get close to throwing up.”

“I think the bathrooms smell the worst,” Sophomore Julie Phan said. “Whenever I walk by the ones connected to the J building, it smells really bad, so I have to walk fast to get away from it. Usually in the morning they don’t smell so bad but by the end of the day, they are usually pretty stinky, so I just try to avoid them all together after my first few hours. Also some times the area I sit for luch outside gets a bad smell, it like wafts out from behind a vending machine.”

There are a few different places around campus and town that smell like sewage; hopefully, the city will be able to help fix the smell on Greenway Road, which will also stop the stink on campus.