Broken sewage valve causes smelly, hazardous issue at Johns Creek

A sewage leak has caused John's Creek to turn green & smell. We've spotted turtles, a beaver and snakes in the water. (Photo Bridget Chapman)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A broken sewage valve in Hickory Hill is causing a smelly problem for a Memphis business and people who live near Johns Creek.

The valve broke last week and caused sewage to run into the water, killing fish and creating an awful stench.

What’s typically a sliver of serenity has turned into a moving flow of sewage.

“The smell, the stench is just horrible,” said Tony Toermina, a production manager at Champion Custom Awards and Apparel.

Toermina says employees at Champion Custom Awards and Apparel usually enjoy their lunch breaks and downtime by Johns Creek.

However, a recent broken sewage valve has kept them all inside or even farther.

“We had a couple people who said they couldn’t stand it, they got sick so they couldn’t stay here and had to leave.”

He says the valve broke mid last week.

City crews came the same day to evaluate the problem and repaired the valve on Friday, but the temporary damage still lingers.

The water has turned green.

“It’s usually real kind of a clear-ish color or even brown if there’s a lot of water flowing.”

Toermina also worries about the many creatures usually seen in it.

“It made me sick. I saw catfish swimming around like gasping for air and then they all died.”

The worst part is he says this is the fourth time that valve’s broke in the last three or four years.

“That’s my question: I really don’t know how it can keep happening time after time when it’s as bad as it is.”

It’s not just their business dealing with the smelly burden, there are also several people who live right alongside the creek.

“I was like, ‘I think somebody’s playing a trick on us or the dog’s been pooping in the yard or something,’ because you smell it like it’s right at the door,” said Jasmine Craft who lives nearby.

She said she was happy to see city crews flushing out the water on Monday using nearby fire hydrants.

A city spokesperson said workers are looking more into the problem to prevent this from happening again.