By Fatima Rahmatullah
Eyewitness News

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - You've probably noticed the stench that sometimes wafts through Downtown and the North Shore.  It's like swamp gas, without the brine of the ocean to justify it. 

"It smelled like raw sewage when we pulled up this morning and I smell it every morning," says Angie Brewster who is remodeling a condo near Downtown. 

"You're not going to come outside and sit on your balcony and eat breakfast that's for sure," says Carl Watson, who works with Brewster. 

Twelve hundred and fifty miles of sewer pipe lines run through Chattanooga, 70 of those miles are in downtown Chattanooga.

Public Works Director, Jerry Stewart says the unpleasant smell comes from the Old Central Business District. He says downtown has an old combined sewage system that includes rain water with actual sewage.

"What will happen is that we haven't gotten enough rainfall and it doesn't get flushed out as regularly as it normally does and what happens solids build up there and then they go septic and the odors come back up through the catch basin," says Stewart. 

Workers try to mask the smell with tablets like you would use in your toilet bowl at home.

"We're trying to mask the odor right here with these cherry blocks. They're 20 pound blocks. They're about $25 -30 a piece," says Jackie McCrary from Public Works.

He says the odor is worse certain times of the day.

"It's during the peak times like early morning, late afternoon. More water is being used at lunchtime, you are getting more water usage and so therefore it's stirring more up you're going to smell all the stirred odor," says McCrary. 

Separating the sewer lines from the storm lines would cost nearly $400,000,000.  Money the city doesn't have.  If you notice the odor call 311 and the city will send someone to take care of the odor. 

Eyewitness News wanted to know if other Tennessee cities have the same problem.  Since Nashville is also on a river, they use biosolids in their sewage which not only lessens the odor but the sewage is use as a fertilizer.