In the inland reaches of Southern California’s Orange County, east of the 5 freeway, up where the foothills begin, lies the Upper Oso Reservoir. It’s no big deal. But a couple of weeks ago it started to stink like rotten eggs. The smell of hydrogen sulfide was the result of an algae bloom following a weather-related inversion in the water layers of the reservoir. So now it is a big deal—annoying the usually mellow residents of nearby Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita. According to the chief engineer of the Santa Margarita Water District, a 24-year veteran, the stink is “probably the worst one in recent memory.”
Reporter Rashi Kesarwani of The Orange County Register has been all over the story like a bad rash, documenting steps taken by the water district to re-oxygenate the water and encourage the disappearance of the algae. She’s also tracked the response of the local citizenry.
Fifteen-year-old Trabuco Hills High School student Natalie Caporuscio, a resident of Melinda Heights in Rancho Santa Margarita, described the stench as a “gnarly fart bomb.”Not content to vent to the OCR’s man on the scene, residents took to their blogs as well.
Mission Viejo, CA stinks. I mean, it reeks to high heaven. There is a sulphurous odor so malignant and intrusive, it has enveloped the neighborhood and penetrated the walls of my house for nearly 48 hours.High school student Chase Miller took the next logical step and set up a Facebook group called Oso Reservoir Smells Like Rotten Eggs. It now has 207 members.
This strikes me as an historical moment in the annals of malodor. Instead of quietly seething or complaining to one another in the checkout line at Vons, people suffering through a big stink can assemble in cyberspace and do something useful. They can log time and place and intensity of stink. They can report on remediation efforts. They can know they’re not crazy and not alone. And they can get something done. The online agitation may have helped incite a protest at City Hall in Mission Viejo.
This being California, the city has taken to its blog (yes, the city of Mission Viejo has an official blog) to update residents on its efforts to smother the gnarly fart bomb. No doubt this beats the way local authorities would handle a similar problem in Chicago or Philadelphia. But the old lyrics still haunt:
Zen fascists will control youJerry Brown is on the move again Chase Miller. Keep an eye peeled for the suede/denim secret police.
You will jog for the master race
And always wear the happy face