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What’s that smell? Nipomo CSD threatens to shut off water if Willow Market can’t fix odor

The Nipomo Community Services District is threatening to shut off water service to Willow Market if the business doesn’t address an ongoing odor issue in the surrounding neighborhood.
The Nipomo Community Services District is threatening to shut off water service to Willow Market if the business doesn’t address an ongoing odor issue in the surrounding neighborhood. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Willow Market in Nipomo is close to having its water shut off, after three years of odor complaints from neighbors and multiple district notices have failed to put an end to a smelly problem with the business’ sewage system.

Nipomo Community Services District General Manager Mario Iglesias said that since 2014, the district has received about two dozen complaints from residents in the Blacklake community, which is located behind the popular restaurant and market, complaining about a “noxious odor” that sometimes invades the area, forcing residents to stay inside.

According to Iglesias, the odor stems from the business’ private on-site sewer pump station that feeds into the district’s sewer system. Large amounts of grease and other materials seem to accumulate in the station, become putrid and cause the smells, he said.

The district first notified Willow Market of the complaints in 2014, Iglesias said. Three years and three more notices later, the district still has seen little real change, and the odors remain, he said.

“They just don’t seem to be coming up with the actions they need to deal with the odors,” he said. “We’re not quite sure why.”

Willow Market owner Vernon “Sonny” Smith declined to comment on the issue Monday, saying just that the business was working with the district to address the concerns. He added he had no fear of the water being shut off.

In previous response to the notices, Smith and other Willow Market representatives said in letters to the district they were working to address the concerns.

According to the letters — included in a district staff report — the business contracted with a local plumbing company in 2015 to clear the grease build-up every 30 days and was looking into upgrading its lift station to eliminate the smells.

Iglesias said the latter has not yet occurred, and the odor complaints have continued, prompting the district to issue a final notice to the business, calling a public hearing to consider the issues on Wednesday.

Smith is being asked to provide a written plan for how he intends to address the smell, and then implement that plan within 60 days. If he does not, the district could choose to refuse to provide water to the business.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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