Tag Archives: SEWER

A Foul Odor Outside May or May Not Be Wastewater

Have you ever ventured outside and something quite astonishing assaulted your nose? It may be easy to pin the blame on a wastewater treatment plant that could be nearby. However, foul odors commonly emanate from a variety of sources in our community:

  • Landfills
  • Industries (i.e. paper or chemical plants)
  • Natural gas pipeline work
  • A wastewater spill
  • Wastewater plants
  • Even private plumbing

Let’s start inside the home…

Private plumbing systems are designed to prevent wastewater gases from entering residences. All active sewer lines contain gases, and a malfunctioning plumbing system could allow gases or odors to enter the home.

Is the odor inside?

Is the odor only coming from…:

A drain that hasn’t been used recently?

We recommend for you to pour a gallon of water down the drain and see if the odor persists.

Multiple drains that are used frequently?

It may be a blockage or clog in your plumbing. Try a liquid dissolvent, please follow directions and see if this clears the clog and dissipates the odor.

A kitchen sink?

Clean the disposal (following the owner’s manual).

What you put down the drain (grease, oils, wipes) can cause odors clogging your plumbing. If the odor does not go away and is only inside your house, consider having a licensed plumber check your plumbing and vent system.

illustration of sink showing that water sits in the trap keeping gases and odors from coming out of the drain. Houses have a vent to the room so that any odor will escape outside.

Odor Outside Home?

Every home has a wastewater vent (on the roof) that could be the source of an odor immediately outside your home (patio, deck, etc.). The odor could be caused by a clog or blockage in your plumbing. Check with neighbors to see if they are also experiencing the odor. If it is only noticed just outside your building, contact a plumber.

Another place to check is in your front yard. Most homes also have a white plastic lid called a cleanout, and that if not closed properly it may cause odor in the yard.

If you live on waterfront property or the road is higher than your house, you may have a low-pressure sanitary sewer system to pump your wastewater up to the gravity fed sewer system. It is possible that this system may be causing an odor in the pump basin if something is malfunctioning.

What Can Cause A Wastewater Type Odor?

Sewage odor may be a sign of a nearby wastewater overflow that needs immediate attention.

​If you see or suspect a wastewater overflow or spill, call 311 or 704-336-7600 – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If calling after hours, please say or select ‘wastewater emergency’ to speak to our dispatchers.

If you live beside a wastewater treatment plant, there may be some occasions when a smell is noticeable outside the property. Wastewater odor can be noticeable during warm temperatures, buildup of debris in pipes, or low flow during some nights and weekends.

CLTWater Takes Odor Seriously

For decades, wastewater treatment plants that were once neighbors to farms and forests are now neighbors to residential neighborhoods and businesses. In fact, there’s a wastewater treatment plant in the Little Sugar Creek / South Park area! As people moved closer to our plants, CLTWater invested millions on odor reduction. We aren’t baking bread, but we try hard to make the treatment of our community’s wastewater less noticeable.

Air scrubbers, carbon filters, bio-filters, help CLTWater reduce odors that can occur during the wastewater treatment process. We are committed to safely treating wastewater and reducing odors. We appreciate your input to help us identify potential odors.

How Do I Report an Odor or Sewer Spill?

If you see or suspect a wastewater overflow, call 311 – 24 hours a day, seven days a week (say or select wastewater emergency).

  • Try to locate the source.
  • If it is coming from a manhole or a creek, call 311 or 704-336-7600 and provide the closest address.
  • A repair crew will respond quickly, investigate the cause and repair any publicly owned pipes, if needed.


5 Things You Can Talk About Over Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving means quality time with family and friends, and for some that can cause a great deal of anxiety. Politics, religion, your cousin’s newest face tattoo, these are all topics that are off limits. So what do you talk about? Don’t worry, Charlotte Water is here with 5 Charlotte themed conversation starters that won’t rock the boat.

  1. Did you know that the City of Charlotte is turning 250 years old?
  2. Did you know that 44% of sanitary sewer overflows are caused by grease from homes and restaurants?
  3. Ninety years ago, the location of our Sugar Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant was chosen because it was outside of the city limits. Since then the city has grown so much and the plant is now located in the heart of South Park.
  4. Tricycles, buckets, scrap wood, rings, goldfish, aprons and flushable wipes all have what in common? They have all been found in our sewer pipes in Mecklenburg County. Please note that NONE of these things belong there.
  5. Before municipal wastewater treatment plants, communities like Charlotte used to allow homes and business to pipe waste directly into lakes and rivers.

We hope this helps and you have a wonderful stress free holiday!

Celebrating Environmental Excellence

Charlotte Water regulates the discharge of pollutants that enter into our municipal sewer system. We monitor 58 industrial partners who are required to obtain wastewater permits which contain limits based on the pollutants discharged from the facility.

On Tuesday June 18th, 2018 Charlotte Water honored the facilities that complied with their permits and those who have taken proactive and innovative approaches to protect the quality of our water in 2017. Charlotte Water is committed to protecting the environment, and so are the industries in our community.

There are 3 tiers of which a facility can be honored for environmental excellence. Silver is given to companies that are 100% compliant for reporting and monitoring; at least 90% compliant for permit limits for one calendar year. No slug loading during the 2015 calendar year. No Significant non-compliance (SNC) for 2 calendar years and the industry must have discharged to the sewer system at some time during the year.

The second tier is Gold. Gold is given to those who are 100% compliant for reporting, monitoring, and permit limits for 1 calendar year. No slug loading during the 2015 calendar year. No SNC for 2 calendar years and industry must have discharged to the sewer system at some time during the year.

The final tier is Platinum. To receive platinum you must have 5 consecutive years of 100% compliance for reporting, monitoring, and permit limits. No slug loading and no SNC. The industry must also have discharged to the sewer system at some point during the year.


We are extremely proud of all the recipients, but we would like to highlight the platinum winners.

  • American Circuts, Inc. – 5th consecutive year
  • Ingersoll Rand, Customer Solutions Center- 2nd consecutive year
  • Mecklenburg County 521 Foxhole Landfill – 7th consecutive year
  • Norfolk Southern Railway, Charlotte Roadway Shop – 2nd consecutive year

Thank you to all of our industrial partners as we work together to protect the Charlotte environment.

Smoke In The Water

Charlotte Water is smoking…it’s not what you think though. On occasion we conduct smoke testing to detect failures and leaks within the wastewater collection system (sewer pipes) that allow rainwater, creek water and other storm water run-off to enter the system.Smoke testing is a technique where smoke is blown into the sewer system, and the smoke escapes through leaks in the sewers.

We will always let you know ahead of time if we are conducting this type of testing in your ‘hood with a door hanger.

We instruct those that will have smoke testing occur in their neighborhood to ensure that all wastewater pipes have been filled with water recently and that all toilets are filled with water.

Some things to know about smoke testing:

  • Smoke should not enter your home or business unless you have defective plumbing or dry drain traps.  Running water will block smoke from entering your home at these locations.
  • Crews will not need to enter into your home or business.
  • You can expect to see smoke escape through vent stacks on the roof of your building – this is a sign that the building’s plumbing is properly installed.
  • The smoke is white to gray in color, nearly odorless, and is non-toxic and non-staining. The smoke will not leave residue or create a fire hazard.  The smoke IS NOT harmful to people or pets.


So the next time you see one of our staff or contractors with a smoke machine, remember we aren’t sending smoke signals, just making sure that any leaks are identified and fixed ASAP.