Grease and Oil Poured Down The Drain Left Memphis Up The Creek

MEMPHIS, Tenn. ( - Nobody has ever written a song about John's Creek. It's just one of those normally dry ditches in Memphis that fills up when there's rain, when all the drains flow into mostly anonymous concrete canyons, that have short lived moments of glory when the water runs high and fast.

John's Creek flows into Nonconnah Creek, which flows into the Mississippi, and if you throw away anything strange or flush anything strange, it will end up in the Big Muddy. If it gets that far. If it doesn't, John's Creek will become a raw sewage heaven, flowing green and reminding people that a nose is a terrible thing to abuse. 

Champion Sports and Apparel runs a big operation right next to John's Creek. Last week, some of the workers noticed the smell. Raw sewage has a distinctive smell that normally can't be described without a curse or two. You can understand why they wanted it fixed.

The folks who work out back at Champion Sports and Apparel noticed the smell last Friday, and of course they wanted it fixed. "I called the city," said Champion Sports' Tony Toarmina. "They came out and tried to flush it. They ran some water into it. It got really nasty and hard to work in here."

Nobody wants to be nicknamed stinky for a variety of reasons, so again the Memphis Department of Public Works went into action.
A sewer line valve had broken open. The cause of that break, well, it might have been bacon.

Robert Knecht, Memphis Public Works Director says, "We, like a lot of big cities, have issues with citizens putting things into their sinks and toilets that are problems. Oil and grease are some of the biggest problems we have. Most people don't realize when you pour that in what happens. It can clog your system. It can cause huge headaches."

Workers fixed the problem, Toarmina said. "They sent several officials out here, told me what was going on, kept us updated. So they were on the problem."

The city hasn't had a rose-smelling reputation when it comes to sewer lines over the last few years.
A couple of major breaks last year caused troubles, especially at McKellar Lake. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation wanted the city to pay fines.

"We are still in negotiations with them about civil penalties," Knecht says, "...assessed penalties and fines with TDEC. There were issues we thought we'd address. All that's going on."

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