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N4T Investigators: Foul odor near Rio Vista Park sparks complaints to Pima County

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TUCSON (KVOA) - An ominous odor near Rio Vista Park has some residents in the area concerned. The foul smell they describe as being like raw sewage. 

“I’ve kind of gagged on it once in a while,” Edward Argraves said. 

“It’s constant, it’s pretty strong,” Steve Lee described. 

“We’ve all kind of noticed this awful smell that permeates a one-mile radius,” a man named Jason, who doesn’t want us using his last name said.  

Jason said he noticed the smell while out with his family at Rio Vista Park. 

“When it was bad you couldn’t sit down at the park without gagging,” he explained. 

The smell is so bad, he took it home with him. 

“It was so ingrained in my brain. That smell, I was smelling it everywhere." Jason said. "I would walk out of my house and be like is that the smell!”  

He became so concerned he made a complaint to Pima County. 

Edward Argraves said he walks his dog every day down a dirt road to the park. He said he has been smelling the odor, off and on, for about four months. 

“I wish something would be done about it because I don’t know what health concerns there are or what it will cause for the neighborhood,” Argraves said. 

The N4T Investigators took their concerns to Pima County, who investigated Jason’s complaint and confirmed the aggravating aroma is coming from a Wastewater Diversion site just feet away from Rio Vista Park. 

“Because it’s very old,  it is very turbulent and that turbulence releases odor,” said Jaime Rivera with Pima County Wastewater Services. 

Rivera said a couple of weeks ago, they were doing testing that released stronger than normal odors. 

“So the odors are going to go down very soon," Rivera said. "We are going to have a project that will go in and remove that structure and replace it with a new one."

That is a breath of fresh air for the concerned residents and park-goers, who are hoping the issue will be resolved soon.  

“The faster they can do it, the better,” Argraves said. 

Pima County said the construction of the new, underground diversion site will start in the Fall and be complete by early next year. The project will cost around $2 million and will “greatly” reduce odors in the area.  

If you have a story you’d like us to investigate, email us at or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.  

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Chorus Nylander

Chorus Nylander is the Chief Investigative Reporter for News 4 Tucson. He is focused on giving the voiceless a voice and holding the powerful accountable.

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